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2024: Commercial exploitation of Kangaroos in Queensland

Life on land

“Victoria note: all three species being exploited commercially in Queensland continue to be protected from commercial exploitation within the shooting zones in national parks and state forests”.

Peter Hylands

November 20, 2023

Here is a summary of what the Queensland Government intends for Kangaroos in 2024. It is as grim as ever with quotas still a very long way from ever being met.

  • Population estimate 17,727,700 up from 16,267,200 in previous year.
  • 2024 Quota: Total commercial quota for Queensland in 2024 is 2,486,400, up from 2,210,400 in 2023.

Queensland Government commercial Kangaroo data for 2023 to 12 August 2023 yet again demonstrates that the actual take against quota will be below the 2023 quotas for each species in each zone.

The Queensland Government also states that the damage mitigation permits (DMPs) will also below the maximum available quota in 2023, just as they were in 2022.

The data so far is a clear indicator of two things, population estimates and hence quotas are far too high and the three species being exploited for commercial gain are systematically being exterminated across Queensland’s regions.

A brief reminder of population estimates

The total Queensland population of the three commercially exploited species as given by Queensland and Commonwealth Governments is as follows:

  • 2023 – 17,727,700
  • 2021 – 12,959,400
  • 2020 – 16,663, 850
  • 2018 – 20,999,900
  • 2013 – 32,803,900
  • 2001 - 37,574,300

The 2023 population estimates giving a quota for the three commercially exploited species in 2024 of 2,486,400. This is 702,550 more Kangaroos than the quota in 2022.

Actual take all species to 31 July 2023 was 388,455 Kangaroos (all commercially exploited species). Our full year estimate for actual take in 2023 is 607,000, or 28 per cent of quota for that year.

The commercial quota for Queensland in 2022 was 1,783,850. The actual take against quota as now reported was 612,233.

In 2022 the actual take as reported by the Queensland Government was 612,233, just one quarter of what they are proposing as the quota for 2024.

Looking at the three year total 2020 to 2022, the actual take against quota of the three species for the three year period was 1,727,541. That is still 758,859 fewer Kangaroos for the three years combined than what they are proposing to kill for commercial gain in 2024.

Nonsense speak from the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES):

“Quotas in Queensland are set up to 20 per cent of the estimated population for each species in each zone. Harvesting at these levels will ensure a sustainable yield and long-term conservation of macropod populations”.

Remember that the purpose of quotas is to ensure the rate of killing does not exceed the quota cap as this rule is meant to ensure that animals can maintain their populations. This is clearly not what is occurring in Queensland.

More nonsense speak from the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES):

“Current harvesting rates are considered sustainable. None of the three commercially harvested species has shown a consistent decline in abundance since 1992 (see above) which would necessitate a reassessment of the take and species conservation status. Whilst no consistent declines have been observed, the macropod populations in Queensland have fluctuated over time”.

As reported by the Queensland Government, the decline in population of the three species being exploited commercially in the last 22 years is around 20 million.

Damage mitigation permits (DMP)

DMPs are issued when Kangaroos and other native wildlife are causing, or may cause, damage or loss, or represent a threat to human health or wellbeing. DES

In the first seven months of 2023, 27,485 Kangaroos were killed using DMPs against a quota 325,344, just 8.5 per cent of quota.

  • Red Kangaroo: To end July 2023, damage mitigation permits were issued to kill 120,634 Red Kangaroos. The actual kill for the period was reported at 6,150.
  • Eastern Grey Kangaroo: To end July 2023, damage mitigation permits were issued to kill 165,341 Eastern Grey Kangaroos. The actual kill for the period was reported at 17,025.
  • Wallaroo: To end July 2023, damage mitigation permits were issued to kill 39,369 Wallaroos. The actual kill for the period was reported at 4,310.

The numbers to 10 October 2023 give the same story. For the Red Kangaroo just 6 per cent (for 7,750 animals) of the mitigation quota had been issued, for the Eastern Grey Kangaroo it was just 12 per cent (for 19,958 animals) and for the Wallaroo just 13 per cent (for 5,238 animals). No demand for mitigation permits, given the highly destructive nature of what occurs in the vast expanses of Queensland, means that Kangaroos are no longer present, certainly in nowhere near the numbers being claimed. The lack of demand for permits is a testimony to that.

What does compliance management in Queensland actually look like?

Statements about strict compliance surveillance from Australian state governments can be misleading. The claim is always made but is it true?

In Queensland there are no compliance checks relating to the actual shooting of Kangaroos or the shooters as they are doing the shooting. This means that it is impossible for the Queensland Government to know just how many Kangaroos were body shot (ie not head shot as required by the regulations) and left in the places they were shot. There are no checks in relation to the actual shooting as this compliance task is considered too dangerous for government employees to conduct.

In Queensland, the government’s compliance officers make occasional checks of chiller boxes where the Kangaroo carcasses are stored, checking to see if the carcasses have a valid commercial tag with landholder consent. Carcasses are checked for body shots, only head shot Kangaroos in Queensland can be sold for commercial gain. Given that lead may be used in the projectiles this looks like a human health concern, rather than anything to do with animal welfare, perhaps it is a combination of both. Either way, this is extremely misguided.

For example, in Queensland in 2022 there were 1,065 licences current for shooters killing Kangaroos for commercial gain. There were 103 dealer licences current for dead Kangaroos, which included 10 dealer licences current for dead Kangaroos (meat processing) and two dealer licence current for dead Kangaroos (tanning of skins).

There were 113 inspections in the period 2018 – 2023, roughly 19 per annum. Non were pre-arranged. There were 41 investigations relating to animal welfare from which 26 infringements were found and 4 demerit points were issued to those shooters found to be offending (10 demerit points are required for loss of licence). That is roughly 4 infringements per annum. During this period around 3,500,000 Kangaroos were killed for commercial gain in Queensland (excluding joeys, approx 580,000). Combining all deaths due to commercial exploitation, that is 4,080,000 Kangaroos, an average of 680,000 per annum or one infringement notice per 170,000 Kangaroo deaths within each year in the period..

Commercial Kangaroo shooters in Queensland are not required to advise the government when and where they are shooting.