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2023 Commercial exploitation of Kangaroos in Victoria

Life on land

“Yet again in Victoria, extreme climate change impacts, this time flooding, does little to curb the appetite for the Victorian Government’s mass slaughter of Australian wildlife”. Peter Hylands

Peter and Andrea Hylands

September 30, 2023

In Victoria, population estimates for Quail, Koalas, Duck and Kangaroo species are overstated and need investigating, leading to toxic policies and devastating impacts on wildlife populations in the state.

What are ATCWs?

The use of Authorities to Control Wildlife (ATCWs) in Victoria is extensive and indiscriminate, there is little evidence that ATCW requests are ever rejected and it is evident, and certainly in the case of some species, public servants are actively promoting their use along with commercial permits.

Mass killing of wildlife in Victoria during COP15 and during terrible climate change impacts in Victoria

In the last quarter of 2022 in Victoria, the post-election period and Christmas run-up, given the usual practice in Victoria, was a particularly vulnerable time for wildlife in the state which included the secretive killing of Koalas. These were grim weeks with little hope of stopping the slaughter. What was particularly disgraceful was that all of this was going on while the UN Biodiversity COP15 was in session in Montreal.

A booming fiction of booming Kangaroo populations

Shockingly amid dire climatic conditions, the 2022 Kangaroo survey, they count a small number of Kangaroos and model these numbers, gave the population of Eastern and Western Grey Kangaroos at 2,363,850 (a population increase of 24 per cent when compared to previous survey), resulting in a quota for 2023 of 236,350 Kangaroos, made up of an ATCW quota of 69,600 and commercial quota of 166,750.

Kangaroo population estimates and quotas in Victoria since 2017

The commercial exploitation of Kangaroos in Victoria commenced in 2014 with the introduction of the KPFT. Initially the trial was conducted in 12 LGAs, extended to 14 LGAs in 2016).

Trial over and deemed highly problematic, this did little to deter the Victorian Government from enabling the killing of an ever increasing number of Kangaroos in the state. The trial ended in October 2019 when the Kangaroo Harvest Program (KHP) was introduced as a Victorian Government policy. Kangaroos could then be shot for commercial gain in 7 shooting zones, comprising 58 LGAs.

There have been four Kangaroo population surveys in Victoria since 2014, when the killing of Kangaroos for pet food commenced.

Surveys were conducted in the following years (the survey sets the quota for the following year):

  • 2017 survey, when the population was given at 1,442,000 resulting in a combined ATCW / commercial quota of 168,992 in 2018;
  • 2018 survey, when the population was given at 1,425,000 resulting in a combined quota of 136,502 in 2019;
  • 2019 (no survey but the 2020 quota report gave a population estimates of 1,378,605, based on modelling 2018 survey results including impacts of fires). The commercial quota for 2020 was set at 57,900 and just 46,000 (80 per cent) of the commercial quota of Kangaroos was achieved that year. The combined ATCW / commercial quota for 2020 was 137,800. The Red Kangaroo was removed from the commercial list in late 2019;
  • 2020 survey, when the population was given at 1,911,550 (a population increase of 41 per cent) resulting in a commercial quota 95,680 in 2021 (including ATCW mitigation permits the total quota was 191,200); and
  • 2022 survey, when the population was given at 2,363,850 (a population increase of 24 per cent when compared to previous survey), resulting in a quota of 236,350 made up of ATCW quota of 69,600 and commercial quota of 166,750.

It appears that the actual take against quota continues to decline, the more the population estimates exaggerate the populations, the lower the actual take against quota, for the simple reason that the Kangaroos do not exist. Of concern is that while this is occurring, the number of shooters is increasing.

In 2022, the Central shooting zone became the Kangaroo killing hotspot, 65,050 Eastern Grey Kangaroos targeted in just this one zone. LGAs in the firing line in the Central shooting zone were Ballarat, Brimbank, Hepburn, Hume, Macedon Ranges, Melton, Mitchell, Moorabool, Mount Alexander, Murrindindi, Nillumbik, Whittlesea and Yarra Ranges.

Victorian Government Kangaroo population estimates by species the government want to exploit commercially (years available)

TREND: The more they kill the faster the increase in population.

  • Eastern Grey Kangaroo – 2017 population estimate 1,359,000 / 2018 population estimate 1,251,000 / 2020 population estimate 1,717,000 / 2022 population estimate 2,146,000;
  • Western Grey Kangaroo – 2017 population estimate 70,000 / 2018 population estimate 130,000 / 2020 population estimate 195,000 / 2022 population estimate 218,000; and
  • Red Kangaroo – 2017 population estimate 13,000 / 2018 population estimate 44,000 / 2020 population estimate 30,000 / 2022 population estimate 54,000. This species is once again at high risk of commercial exploitation in Victoria.

As quotas increase so does the shortfall in the number of animals allocated for commercial exploitation and as the share of actual take against quota declines.

Actual take against commercial quota (per cent)

2022 – 57 per cent;

2021 – 65 per cent (using original quota);

2020 – 80 per cent (Government figure, I cannot find a way of checking it); and

2019 – 56 per cent (from October 1 to year end, see note below).

Actual take against commercial quota (shortfall against quota – number of animals)

2022 – 59,504

2021 – 33,446

2020 – 11,836

2019 – 6,255

Note: the Victorian Government state that:

“The Victorian Kangaroo Harvesting Program commenced operation on 1 October 2019. This document reports on the operation of the program from its commencement until 31 December 2019”.

Kangaroos in Victoria have been exploited commercially since 2014, but under a different scheme.

The Victorian Government also states that:

“Objective 6 of the KHMP is Maintain openness, accountability and transparency. One of the requirements under that objective is that DELWP and DJPR will make relevant documents available online to ensure information about the requirements of this plan and the operation of the program are accessible to all interested parties”.

The cruel death of joeys is not included in these numbers.

Major concerns for 2023

In 2023, the Central shooting zone which incorporates a number of Melbourne local government areas, is an even greater target for the commercial Kangaroo trade than it was in 2022.  The 2023 quota for the Central shooting zone is 82,050, which includes a commercial quota of 65,100, this compares to the Mallee shooting Zone in the North West of the state (rural type outback with once significant populations of Kangaroos) of a commercial quota of 1,550. The Victorian Government claims that the Kangaroo population in the Central shooting zone has increased by 161,600 giving a total population for that zone of 820,550. This cannot be correct and appears to be significantly overstated.

The human population in the Central shooting zone in 2022 was 1,409,842, rising from 872,966 in 2000. The shooting zone includes the LGAs of Hume and Whittlesea which are among the fastest growing LGAs in Australia, near doubling their populations over the period. These are not the places in which high powered rifles with suppressors or silencers (normally illegal) should be used to kill and butcher wildlife, traumatising residents in the process.

I like to get people to visualise what numbers look like and to think about how numbers work and what numbers mean. In the Central shooting zone we have a population estimate for Kangaroos of 820,550, a similar number to the actual human population in the zone in the year 2000. Every day we see lots and lots of people driving to work and shopping and so on. Strangely we hardly ever see a Kangaroo unless we know where the remaining mobs live.

So Kangaroos are substantially missing from many of the places where they once existed in this zone, development, which is extensive, is just one way they disappear. Thinking about numbers and what is possible and what is likely to be the case, when applied to Kangaroo population estimates, tells us that there is something very wrong with the claims of rapidly growing Kangaroo populations in the Central shooting zone. While that is the case for human populations in the zone, it is not the case for Kangaroos.

Australia's magnificent Red Kangaroo

Actual take against quota Q1, 2 and 3 - 2023

So what actually happened in the first three months of 2023?

The commercial quota for Kangaroos in Victoria in Q1 was 42,100.

The actual number of Kangaroos killed for commercial gain in Victoria in the period was 24,637, just 58.5 per cent of the quota.

Females made up 32.5 per cent of the kill, leading to the cruel killing of 6,675 joeys (our estimate based on previous actuals nationally), thus taking out the next generations.

Two shooting zones out of seven, the Central Shooting Zone and the Lower Wimmera Shooting Zone, accounted for 66.7 per cent of the total kill. The Central Shooting Zone, in and proximate to the City of Melbourne, had the highest number of Kangaroos killed at 8,312, add to that number, an additional 2,250 joeys.

Just 476 Western Grey Kangaroos were killed in the first quarter of 2023, the balance were Eastern Grey Kangaroos, a species which has a wider distribution in Victoria.

The Victorian Government, through its conduct in enabling and promoting the cruel exploitation of wildlife, is on the way to exterminating the Western Grey Kangaroo in the state in just the same way they have tried to do in relation to the Red Kangaroo.

Quarter 2 and 3 Summary 2023 Reports for Victoria’s ‘Kangaroo Harvesting Program’ were finally published, after much chasing, in late October 2023. This is what they reveal.

The Q2 reports show that the commercial Kangaroos quota for the seven shooting zones in the period was 42,000 Grey Kangaroos, with carryover from Q1 this rose to 44,537 animals, 21,186 Kangaroos were killed with allocations being issued to 138 shooters (note some shooters were licenced to shoot In more than one shooting zone). Of the animals killed, 300 were reported as being Western Grey Kangaroos. In the period 21,516 were ‘stored’ for processors, of which 32 per cent were female. This suggest that around 5,000 dependant young were killed in the quarter and not accounted for.

The Q3 reports show that the commercial Kangaroos quota for the seven shooting zones in the period was 40,650 Grey Kangaroos, with carryover from Q1 this rose to 52,907 animals, 16,082 Kangaroos were killed with allocations being issued to 56 shooters, a steep decline over the previous period, (note some shooters were licenced to shoot In more than one shooting zone). Of the animals killed, 600 were reported as being Western GreyKangaroos. In the period 15,757 were ‘stored’ for processors, of which 33.5 percent were female. This suggest that around 4,400 dependant young were killed in the quarter and not accounted for. In the regional context, in Q3, 249 Kangaroos were killed for commercial gain in the Upper Wimmera shooting zone, just 600 in the Mallee shooting zone, rising to 6,350 in the more urbanised Central shooting zone which accounted for 39.5 per cent of total take.

The outcome for the first three quarters of 2023 show that out of the commercial quota of 126,100 Grey Kangaroos, the number actually killed was 61,905, that is 49.1 per cent of quota. The trend is a decline in the number of animals killed for each consecutive quarter, declining from 24,637 in Q1 to 16,082 in Q3.

It is probable that the male Kangaroos now being killed are smaller and younger, Victoria has no minimum weight for Kangaroos being killed for commercial gain (nor records the weights), and this is yet another indicator that this activity is a very long way from being sustainable.

Standards of governance in 2023

There were no suspensions of the 176 commercial shooters authorisations in the first three quarters of 2023, even though they are shooting a very large number of females with evident joeys. To remind everyone, the Victorian licence authorisation, Conditions of Authorisation under section 28A of the Wildlife Act 1975, to hunt, take, destroy, possess, dispose of and sell Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Western Grey Kangaroos in accordance with the approved Victorian Kangaroo Harvest Management Plan 2021-2023, states very clearly that:  

“Condition 7 - Kangaroos with obvious dependent young must not be shot”.

I have pointed this out to a series of revolving Victorian Government Ministers responsible for this behaviour and precisely nothing has been done about it.

No doubt and in the current review of their ‘management plan’ they will be removing any reference to not shooting females with obvious dependent young.

Melbourne boots and shoes advertisement 1901

Number of Kangaroos counted during extensive Victorian Government surveys

Since 2014, when the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos was introduced into Victoria, there have been four Victorian Government Kangaroo population surveys. The results were as follows:

2022 survey

  • 5,947 Eastern and Western Grey Kangaroos resulting in a population estimate of 2,363,850 (24 per cent increase in population); and
  • 140 Red Kangaroos resulting in a population estimate of 54,000.

Climate change impact in period – serious flooding.

2020 survey

  • 6,268 Eastern and Western Grey Kangaroos resulting in a population estimate of 1,912,000 (41 per cent increase in population); and
  • 102 Red Kangaroos resulting in a population estimate of 30,000.

Climate change impact in period – most serious wildfires known.

2018 survey

  • 4,707 Eastern and Western Grey Kangaroos resulting in a population estimate of 1,381,000; and
  • 91 Red Kangaroos resulting in a population estimate of 44,000.

2017 survey (shorter transects)

  • 2,607 Eastern and Western Grey Kangaroos resulting in a population estimate of 1,429,000; and
  • 23 Red Kangaroos resulting in a population estimate of 13,000.

In 2017 the Victorian Government issued permits to kill 2,187 more Red Kangaroos than their entire state population estimate for that year.


The actual commercial take against quota for 2022 is as follows (the final full year figures were released on 5 June, hence this analysis was updated 6 June, 2023):

  • Revised annual quota 118,980 animals (original was 127,850);
  • By end of Q3 2022, with 75 per cent of the year gone, 43.5 per cent of the original commercial quota had been achieved. To the end of September 2022 the actual take was 55,718 animals with 65 per cent of these Kangaroos coming from just two of the seven shooting zones, the Central shooting zone and the Lower Wimmera shooting zone;
  • In Q3 of 2022, the proportion of females killed was 44 per cent. The Victorian Government has moved from saying that no females with evident young should be shot for commercial purposes to a then 30 per cent plus of take being female. This now means an even larger number of at foot and in pouch joeys are being killed. The latest increase in the share of females is shocking, extremely cruel and unsustainable. There were no substantiated offences in quarter 3. That is hard to believe given the distress in the community;
  • The full year figures for 2022 show that 68,346 Grey Kangaroos were killed for commercial gain, that is 53.5 per cent of the original quota and 57.5 per cent of revised quota. By far the highest take was in the Central shooting zone, which also takes in the Melbourne Local Government Areas in the northern parts of the city, where 24,414 Grey Kangaroos (36 per cent of total state) were killed for commercial gain out of a quota for that zone of 46,100. In contrast, two rural/ outback zones, produced very low actual take, the large and remoter Mallee shooting zone where 703 Kangaroos were shot for commercial gain and the North East shooting zone where 2,112 Kangaroos were shot for commercial gain;
  • In 2022 19,015 dependant young were reported killed (not included in the statistics reported here) from 22, 607 female Kangaroos at a ratio of one young animal killed for every 1.2 females killed for commercial gain. Young Kangaroos are killed as required by the Victorian Government, by being beaten to death or decapitated with a knife. 33 per cent of the total actual take were female; and
  • In total 12,628 Kangaroos were killed in Victoria for commercial gain in the last quarter of 2022 with an estimated gross value of $316,000. This is substantially less than the amounts being spent by the Victorian Government on enabling and supporting this activity.

Changing patterns of share between shooting zones in Victoria, including increased targeting of Metropolitan Melbourne, clearly demonstrate rapid decline of Kangaroo populations in some shooting zones. In Q4 2022, two shooting zones were suspended, these were the North East and the Lower Wimmera shooting zones (this is now confirmed in the full year report).

NOTE: The total actual take of Grey Kangaroos in Victoria, including mitigation permits (known in Victoria as ATCWs) was 127,117 out of a quota of 185,850. Because of serious flooding in the North of Victoria, particularly on the Murray system, what can only be described as a Kangaroo massacre occurred in the Mallee shooting zone in Q4 when mitigation permits were issued to kill large numbers of Kangaroos, their plight ignored until shooting became the only option. This pushed up the actual total kill number and included large numbers of Kangaroos that would otherwise have survived, further depleting the state’s Kangaroo population. In contrast and across the border in New South Wales, wildlife rescuers were able to rescue Kangaroos from the floods.

Changing share of Kangaroos killed: Commercial and ‘damage mitigation permits’

  • 2019: Mitigation permits were 78 per cent of animals killed, commercial was 22 per cent;
  • 2020: Mitigation permits were 61 per cent of animals killed, commercial was 39 per cent;
  • 2021: Mitigation permits were 49 per cent of animals killed, commercial was 51 per cent; and
  • 2022: Mitigation permits were 46 per cent of animals killed, commercial was 54 per cent.

Substantial increase in killing since commercial exploitation was introduced

“It will not mean any increase in the wildlife control permits at all, it is just utilising the waste that is there from the current controls,’’ Peter Walsh, former Victorian Agriculture Minister 2014

Promises from Victoria’s politicians that when the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos was introduced in the state, the killing rate would not increase, were a very long way from the truth.

“Wildlife have been affected by the floods that are currently impacting many areas of Victoria”. DELWP, DEECA, January 2023

When the three years 2010 to 2012 are compared to latest three year period for which we have statistics and plans, 2021 to 2023, in the pre-commercial exploitation period permits were issued to kill 119,997 Kangaroos. In the most recent period 613,400 Kangaroos have / will be targeted. The earlier period also included permits for the Red Kangaroo so the comparison is even more shocking.

What we see here is a fivefold increase in the killing when the periods are compared.

The shooters: It appears that as Kangaroo populations in Victoria decline, the number of licenced Kangaroo shooters is increasing. In 2022, in Victoria there were 157 licenced Kangaroo shooters operating in Victoria, near doubling from a few years ago.

“Many authorised ‘harvesters’ operate across multiple zones” Victorian Government

When commercial activity is analysed across Victoria’s seven shooting zones, a number of the 157 licenced Kangaroo shooters were operating in more than one shooting zone, travelling to mop-up remaining Kangaroo populations, in total when the shooting zone data is added, there were 272 Kangaroo shooters operating across the combined zones, therefore up to 70 per cent of the licenced Kangaroo shooters in Victoria were operating in more than one shooting zone. At 76, the urban fringe Central shooting zone had the most shooters operating in that zone, while the least was the Mallee shooting zone with just 4 Kangaroo shooters operating in that zone. This is precisely the opposite outcome one would expect if the activity was sustainable.

We learn from this analysis just how dangerous this activity is becoming for residents in the Central shooting zone and how carbon intensive this low value activity has become in Victoria, shooters travelling longer distances to undertake their grim work.

How many Kangaroos have been targeted in Victoria since 2010?

Permits have / will be issued to kill 1,830,447 Kangaroos in Victoria in the period 2010 to the end of 2023. 1,635,311 of these are in the period covering the introduction of the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos in Victoria (includes ATCWs).

Victorian Government authorised Kangaroo killing, commercial and non-commercial permits since 2010 (Eastern Grey and Western Grey Kangaroos - Red Kangaroos until 2019) (numbers in bold authorised under Labor Government): 

  • 2010 – 39,559
  • 2011 – 34,721
  • 2012 – 45,717
  • 2013 – 75,139
  • 2014 – 84,100
  • 2015 – 135,887
  • 2016 – 169,544
  • 2017 – 189,086
  • 2018 – 168,992
  • 2019 – 136,502 (Red Kangaroo removed from KHP in Victoria)
  • 2020 - 137,800 (Catastrophic fires destroyed wildlife populations and the world donates to help save them)
  • 2021 - 191,200 (Victorian Government claims Kangaroo population increase of 41 per cent)
  • 2022 - 185,850 
  • 2023 - 236,350 (plan) - Victorian Government claim yet another significant increase in the population of Eastern and Western Grey Kangaroos, this time 24 per cent)

Vast scale flooding in Victoria has not slowed the constant killing of Kangaroos

Female Kangaroos and their joeys

As the larger male Kangaroos, the early targets of this vile trade, vanish from the landscape, increasing numbers of females are being targeted, for Victoria 30 per cent of the commercial take is female and this share is increasing (Q3 2022 figures showed 40 per cent plus).

The original licence conditions for Victoria can be found in Conditions of Authorisation under section 28A of the Wildlife Act 1975, to hunt, take, destroy, possess, dispose of and sell Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Western Grey Kangaroos in accordance with the approved Victorian Kangaroo Harvest Management Plan 2021-2023 stated that:

The Victorian Code for the authorisation of commercial shooting explicitly states that (section 7): 

“Kangaroos with obvious dependent young must not be shot”.

No such thing has ever occurred in Victoria and female Kangaroos are being killed in ever greater numbers. A very large number of joeys are also being killed – so that takes out the next generation, perhaps the next two generations and the poor little joeys are not included in the statistics.

Victoria is one big shooting zone

Victoria is divided into seven shooting zones covering the state which even extend into Metropolitan Melbourne. These are places where Kangaroos can be brutally killed for commercial gain. 

Currently, two species of Kangaroo are exploited commercially in Victoria, the Eastern Grey Kangaroo and the Western Grey Kangaroo. The Red Kangaroo was removed from the commercial list in Victoria in 2019 because of inflated population estimates.

In order to maintain the Kangaroo population estimates published by governments, new shooting zones and regions are added, as others close, because the Kangaroos are gone. In the case of South Australia for example, new species, as well as new shooting zones have been added, as so-called quotas are never met, again and simply because the Kangaroos they are trying to kill do not exist.

In the case of Victoria, no further zone expansion is possible (unless in state and national parks) as the entire state, with very few exceptions which include inner Melbourne, is covered by the seven shooting zones.

The progressive shift from non-commercial to commercial based killing of Kangaroos in Victoria is rapid. In the last quarter of 2019 commercial killing of Kangaroos made up 22 per cent of the total kill. Through its marketing and enabling of the commercial exploitation of Australian wildlife, the Victorian Government had increased the share of commercial based killing to 39 per cent in 2020 and to 51 per cent by 2021. As noted, the push to commercial exploitation of Kangaroos has led to year on year increases in the number of Kangaroos being targeted and to such an extent that the trade cannot be sustainable.

Having worked very hard to save the Red Kangaroo from ongoing commercial exploitation, the Victorian Government chose to continue to kill significant numbers of Red Kangaroos on public land, including National and State Parks. Our grave concern is that, as the population of Grey Kangaroos dwindles, the remaining Red Kangaroos in the state will again become a target for commercial exploitation, then, that will be the end.

Hattah Kulkyne: If only this was true

Standards of Governance

Victoria has now joined South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland in releasing its Kangaroo population estimates and quotas for the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos in 2023. As in the other states, the Victorian Government has yet again claimed a very significant increase in Kangaroo populations, despite:

  • Dire climatic conditions, including the fires and drought, followed by floods;
  • A mind boggling increase in the killing rate from what would have normally been the case;
  • From killing no females with evident young to a very large number of females and their young;
  • Impossible reproduction rates; and
  • The mass killing of Kangaroos in National and State Parks in Victoria.

The population increase estimate of Grey Kangaroos, following the 2022 survey, is therefore incorrect and it is highly probable that the quotas, which given the actual number of Kangaroos that now remain, are higher than the actual population and this will be the case in a number of regions. So that means regional extinctions of these animals. Quotas being higher than or equal to the estimated population for the year is already the case and examples are the Red Kangaroo in Victoria in 2017 and the Grey Kangaroo in the Tibooburra (NSW) shooting zones in 2020.

What is particularly concerning is that for the shooting zones that were suspended in the last quarter of 2022 in Victoria because of concerns about viability of remaining populations, as of January 1, 2023, now have significant quotas reimposed in these zones. How can this be the possible?

Exclusion fencing running along the edge of the Murray Sunset National Park, a wildlife killer. The park is on the right of the photo, private land on the left, note which way the fence slopes, deliberately so to trap and kill wildlife

Human harms

In the nine or so years analysing the impact of the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos in Victoria we have concluded that the senior individuals, particularly Ministers, in the Victorian Government operate on the basis of don’t ask and don’t know. This has become particularly evident in relation to the growing number of human rights abuses relating to these matters, which are shocking.

“After the horrific killing and dismemberment of 21 kangaroos on 30 November 2021, about a third to half the mob of kangaroos that live in my valley, I am still very traumatised. Initially I was numb with shock and disbelief that such a thing could be sanctioned and carried out by humans. Since, I have been experiencing a mixture of anxiety, sadness, depression and sheer anger. My neighbours have already made the decision to sell up, and I am contemplating my future here. It feels like post-traumatic stress disorder. In the following day of the killing, I was checking for injured wildlife and orphan joeys, when I came across kangaroo heads hacked off, paws and intestines, on the land where the killing took place. There is no knowing if heads were removed to cover that there had been no head shot, therefore questioning whether the animal was dead when it was hacked apart.” Resident, Wombat Forest, Central shooting zone, Victoria in note to Peter Hylands

Diffusing responsibility for these matters across a range of departments and agencies, allowing each to claim they are not responsible, is unacceptable.

The prejudicial release of information is also unacceptable and in the case of the population estimates and quotas for 2023, the report was released on 31 December 2022 which was of course New Year’s Eve and a Saturday, with the obvious intention of minimising attention to the report.

The 2023 quotas are extremely alarming given that remnant Kangaroo populations in Victoria are increasingly associated with human settlements, including suburbs in the City of Melbourne, and these are the places now being targeted by the shooters.

We have said over and over again that the use of high powered rifles in and around human settlements is very dangerous as well as being highly distressing to the people who live in these places.

Dead lands: Rising salinity in northern Victoria, once of great concern, but now nothing

Summing up and the answers we need

We do not sit in a room and look at spread sheets, we have looked at all shooting zones to the north and west of Melbourne in great detail. What is evident is that Kangaroo populations in remote and rural landscapes including the Mallee and the two Wimmera zones are now down to very low numbers. The alarming matter is that Kangaroos in Victoria are more and more associated with human populations, so this activity with its high powered rifles, gets ever closer to human populations. The 2023 quotas tell us that loud and clear.

Mallee shooting zone: Finding a Kangaroo out here is like looking for a needle in a haystack

I have asked the departments responsible the following questions and the response that I have at time of writing is included, but we need to know the full answers, as do the Environment Minister and other senior politicians in the Victorian Government. I make this comment, it is interesting how government's perception, as staff continue to change, of what has occurred evolves over time and becomes the new reality, often this is no reality at all.

“There have been no changes to the conditions that 'harvesters' operate under, including the sex of kangaroos being controlled. Females have always been allowed to be controlled under the KHP in accordance with the National Code of Practice for Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes”. Executive Director Biodiversity, Victorian Government, 27 January 2023

Kangaroo harvest quotas for Victoria, 2023, November 2022, Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Technical Report Series No. 349

This report was published in November 2022. Questions arising:

  • This report was released to the groups concerned about the accuracy of the population estimates and the efficacy and claims surrounding the entire program on the morning of New Year’s Eve (Saturday, 31 December, 2022). Why was this date chosen?
  • When was this information released to shooters and shooting associations?

ANSWER: ARI’s report Kangaroo harvest quotas for Victoria, 2023 was made publicly available on the department’s website on 28 December 2022. Harvesters were notified by the Game Management Authority of the 2023 quota after the publication of this report.

COMMENT: This must mean that commercial Kangaroo shooters will be shooting Kangaroos in January 2023 without knowing what the quota for a particular shooting zone or species is, doing so without a tag allocation.

A very lucky Kangaroo and a very poor shot. Better to have your ear shot off than the rest of your face

Changes in Methodology: Questions arising:

  • Were any transects modified or moved when compared to the previous population survey?
  • If so, why?
  • What was the current assumption when modelling the population estimates of the ratio between the population of male and female Kangaroos.

ANSWER: The 2022 aerial survey followed the same design as the 2020 survey, with the intention of surveying the same transects wherever possible to ensure the results of the surveys are comparable over time. Further details will be provided when the survey report is published. No assumption is made about the population sex ratio when conducting the aerial surveys or when making the population estimates. The purpose of the surveys is to estimate the total population, not the sex ratio.

"Annual data on carcass weights is not collected in Victoria". Executive Director Biodiversity, Victorian Government, 27 January 2023

Questions regarding population counts. Questions arising:

  • Why is the Red Kangaroo still being counted in the survey after it was removed from the commercial species list?

ANSWER: Estimates of the Red Kangaroo population may be useful to DEECA and other stakeholders for a variety of management and reporting purposes. Red Kangaroos have never been harvested under the KHP or the previous Kangaroo Pet Food Trial. Red Kangaroos are included in the aerial surveys because it requires little extra effort to survey for this species while transects are surveyed. Similarly, it is straight forward to analyse the data to produce a population estimate for Red Kangaroos in Victoria while that data for Grey Kangaroos are analysed.

COMMENT: During the government's marketing phase of the Kangaroo Pet Food Trial in 2014, media were given information using pictures of the Red Kangaroo, "animals culled for other purposes were to be allowed to be processed commercially". In an earlier set of questions during the trial period, DELWP responded to me thus, when I asked why they had not counted the Eastern Wallaroo (given its endangered status in Victoria and that they were counting Kangaroos). Their response was that they only counted species they wanted to use commercially. What has happened to the Red Kangaroo in Victoria over the last decade has always been concerning and as result we did a great deal of work to try and keep the Red Kangaroo off the list when it came to the KHP, and in late 2019, the Environment Minister (D'Ambrosio) confirmed the species was removed from any further risk of commercial exploitation. This resulted in a large number of Red Kangaroos being targeted using ATCW permits, many of these animals were living in National Parks in Victoria.

  • How many Red Kangaroos were counted in the 2022 survey?
  • What was the resulting population estimate for the Red Kangaroo in Victoria?

ANSWER: This information will be provided in the soon to be published survey report, which will be made publicly available on the department’s website.

  • How many Grey Kangaroos were counted in the 2022 survey?
  • Were the Eastern and Western Greys counted in the survey differentiated sufficiently to give confidence that the Western Grey Kangaroo populations in Victoria are not at significant risk of extinction in the state?

ANSWER: As it is not possible to distinguish Eastern Grey and Western Grey Kangaroos from the air, the total estimate of the Grey Kangaroo was apportioned between the two based on a spatial model of the distribution of the two species, identical to that described in the population report from the 2020 survey. Ground surveys will take place every second survey, in line with ARI’s recommendations, to allow periodic updating of the spatial model of Eastern / Western Grey Kangaroo distribution. This ensures the apportionment of the Grey Kangaroo population estimates between the two reflects the current distribution of the two species in Victoria.

  • How will the actual take of Western Greys be monitored?

ANSWER: The take of Western Grey Kangaroos is monitored through KHP harvest data and through the ATCW permit system.

Comment and question:

  • This report is lacking in substantive detail. Does DJPR and DELWP consider an 11 page report (some pages sparsely populated) sufficient to enable the mass killing of 236,350 Grey Kangaroos plus their young?

ANSWER: No response.

1080 poison, the popular choice, even in the Hattah Kulkyne National Park

Note on continual failure to meet quotas

“The climatic conditions in Victoria, since the last survey in 2020, have resulted in high rainfall and increased food availability. With two years of favourable conditions, the Kangaroo population increased 24 percent since the survey in 2020 from 1.91 million to 2.36 million. The maximum number of Kangaroos that can be controlled has increased in line with the increase in population”. Executive Director Biodiversity, Victorian Government, 27 January 2023

As a general rule, the longer commercial exploitation of Kangaroos has occurred in a given place, the lower the actual take against quota. For example, South Australia has a very low take against quota as the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos has been both extensive and long term. Because the government's population estimates are far too high, the risk now for a given zone or species, is that quotas exceed the actual remaining populations.

Victoria, which is a relative newcomer to this activity, still has a higher actual take against quota, but the percentage take is falling and declines in take will increase rapidly in the next few years as Victoria cannot geographically expand into new shooting zones, as wherever Kangaroos exist in the state, these places have already been designated as a commercial shooting zone.

Billy tea image 1892

There is a relationship between actual take against quota and population estimate by species, so say the actual take against quota is between 10 and 20 per cent of quota - ongoing, even this dwindling take against quota is only achieved by tricks like prey switching - adding new species to the commercial list; ie. South Australia adding 3 new species, killing more and more females and zone extensions; after zone extensions, New South Wales are already trying to creep into non-shooting zones (more populous areas) and in Victoria, no zone extensions are possible as the whole state, minus a couple of very small bits, including the Melbourne CBD, is a shooting zone. Shockingly, Victoria has no minimum size for Kangaroos that can be used commercially for pet food. So for Victoria, any extension of the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos is National / State Parks and adding more species (yet again the Red Kangaroo is increasingly in danger). In 2022 the Victorian Government issued 9 permits to kill 2,030 Red Kangaroos, presumably most on public lands.

Victoria, unlike most other states, does not even have the option of reducing the weights of the Kangaroos that can be exploited. In Tasmania it is now about going after tiny Pademelons (now extinct in Victoria) and secretive transition of permits to commercial for the fast vanishing Forester Kangaroo (the Forester will become extinct if things don’t change).

So it very much looks like all the states are running out of Kangaroos and the Victorian Government has backed itself into a corner, from which, it will find it impossible to extract itself.

Murray Sunset National Park: We looked for Kangaroos but did not find a single one

Status of Kangaroo species and their relatives in Victoria

  • Toolache Wallaby Macropus greyi EXTINCT;
  • Eastern Hare Wallaby Lagorchestes leporides EXTINCT;
  • Bridled Nailtail Wallaby Onychogalea fraenata EXTINCT;
  • Rufous-bellied Pademelon Thylogale billardierii EXTINCT;
  • Rufous Rat-kangaroo or Rufous Bettong Aepyprymnus rufescens EXTINCT;
  • Eastern Bettong Bettongia gaimardi gaimardi EXTINCT;
  • The Woylie or Brush-tailed Bettong Bettongia penicillata EXTINCT;
  • Long-nosed Potoroo Potorous tridactylus THREATENED – population in decline;
  • Long-footed Potoroo Potorous longipes ENDANGERED – population in decline;
  • Western Grey Kangaroo Macropus fuliginosus – when historical distribution records are compared the species is missing from almost 50 per cent of its former range, shot commercially since 2014. POPULATION IN STEEP DECLINE - AT SIGNIFICANT RISK;
  • Eastern Grey Kangaroo Macropus giganteus – former range fractured and fragmented, shot commercially since 2014 - POPULATION IN STEEP DECLINE;
  • Eastern Wallaroo Macropus robustus robustus ENDANGERED – extinct across 99 per cent of its former range in Eastern Victoria – REMAINING POPULATION IMPACTED BY WILDFIRES;
  • Red-necked Wallaby Macropus rufogriseus – POPULATION SERIOUSLY IMPACTED BY WILDFIRES;
  • Red Kangaroo Macropus rufus – restricted in its declining range to far North West Victoria, the species used to occur in at least 50 per cent of Victoria. The species existence in Victoria is directly threatened by Victorian Government actions and will be driven to the edge of EXTINCTION in the state because of mass extermination programs. Removed from threat of commercial exploitation in the state 2019 (confirmed by Environment Minister at that time);
  • Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby Petrogale penicillata - ENDANGERED – hunted to near extinction in Victoria, in 1908 alone 92,590 skins were marketed by a single company. LESS THAN 60 ANIMALS REMAINED in the wild in Victoria in 2018;
  • Black Wallaby or Swamp Wallaby Wallabia bicolor - POPULATION IMPACTED BY 2020 WILDFIRES

Sadly, since British settlement, 7 species in this family have become extinct in Victoria. And even more sadly, attitudes and conduct have not changed.

Local Governments in Victoria

As reality and fact strike home, the tide is beginning to turn.

Joeys, victims of the slaughter are often left to die alongside the remains of their mother

Local Government in Victoria, particularly in the Central Shooting Zone, which includes both Melbourne and peri-urban LGAs, are under pressure from distressed residents about the killing and butchering of Kangaroos adjacent to the places in which they live.

In discussions with the Victorian Ombudsman the view from the Ombudsman’s office is that Local Government is responsible in that amenity and community safety and wellbeing are part of what a council must manage with an appropriate duty of care. Councils however, just like their residents, are finding it difficult to stop the slaughter and the threats to health and safety now being created by the Kangaroo shooters.

Residents and business owners have no rights in the matter, rights which are over-ridden by the rights of the shooter to conduct the killing, unannounced and during the night. We are beginning to see strong reactions from councils in the Central Shooting Zones as councillors move to protect the amenity and wellbeing of their residents and attempt to stop the shooting.

The history of local government’s involvement in the commercial exploitation is interesting. Here is a short case study of the role of the Southern Grampians Shire Council in the West of Victoria, a region where Victorian Government employees claim that people living in the region should expect to hear shooting during the night and be prepared for shooters’ spotlights to shine through their windows at night. Extraordinary, even by Victorian Government standards, in the 21st Century.

What follows is equally shocking given what actually happened to tourism operators in Dunkeld and neighbouring region. We should remember that Kangaroos are butchered, sometimes still alive, where they are shot, and heads, feet and internal organs are left in the open for locals and tourists alike to discover in the days following the mass shootings. The stench can be unbearable.

Claims about any economic benefit from these disruptive, cruel and antisocial behaviours are fiction.

Here are some quotes from the Hamilton Spector of November 13, 2010

“Council pushes to change banning use of Kangaroo meat, Southern Grampians Shire councillors will lead the push to change a 35 year old state government law preventing the processing of Kangaroo meat for commercial use in Victoria”.
“I'm keen on a notice of motion that the council would look at supporting a processing facility in the Shire. I think there's a major regional development scale if it is managed right. I believe there is a fantastic economic benefit and regional prosperity to be had if we actually utilised the carcass, it would mean a change of legislation. I would like to push forward and lobby very hard to try and achieve this”. Cr Battista
“Southern Grampians Shire Mayor, Marcus Rentsch, said that the issue was unsuccessfully raised by council in 2008 with Agriculture Minister Joe Helper and Environment Minister Gavin Jennings. Councillor Rentsch said it was not an issue about culling quotes or Kangaroo populations but making good use of dead animal carcass. Kangaroos killed under the cull that's permitted by the department are just left to rot and that's unacceptable, it's a health hazard”.
“Councillor Batista's motion to lobby the state government on altering the wildlife act was amended to include seeking support from neighbouring shires and utilising the Municipal Association of Victoria and passed without any objection".