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2024: Commercial exploitation of Kangaroos in Victoria

Life on land

“Australia’s Kangaroo world is a dark one, a world of dodgy numbers, disinformation and propaganda, questionable animal health and human health standards, intimidation, denial of climate change impacts, extreme cruelty, questionable economic benefit and divisive impacts on regional communities”.

Peter Hylands

January 1, 2024

On 21 December 2023 a headline paragraph in a rural paper reads:

“The Victorian Government has released Kangaroo quotas for 2024. But a slump in demand means that quotas are unlikely to be met”.

We can be certain of one thing, they will not reach the quotas in 2024, because the population estimates, yet again, appear hyper-inflated. This leads to quotas that are far too high.

The commercial quota as announced by this publication is 156,650. Beyond that I have no further details as the Victorian Government has not released any information relating to the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos in 2024 for the public to see. We get the same thing occurring each year with the individuals supporting and engaged in the exploitation, receiving the information before those who are trying to stop the killing.

This is what was finally published by the Victorian Government.

  • Population estimate 2,363,850 (desktop evaluation, no survey), same as previous year.
  • 2024 Commercial quota 155,650 down from 166,750 in 2023.

“Overall, the costs of the Kangaroo Pet Food Trial (KPFT) outweighed the benefits with each dollar of taxpayer spending providing benefits to processors and landholders worth around 62 cents. An analysis undertaken in late 2017 found that it would have required an increase in Kangaroos processed of more than 50 per cent- approximately 40,000 more over the trial period to that date – for sufficient commercial benefits to have been generated to offset the trial costs”. Victorian Government

And the costs still keep mounting. At the time the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos began statewide in Victoria (2019) following a trial which commenced in 2014. We made the following observation and it is an exact quotation:

“In the case of Victoria, no further 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”.

Well guess where they are heading in 2025, public lands, including state and national parks? After that it will all be over.

More details will follow when we actually get some information from the Victorian Government. The Victorian Government confirmed today (22 December) that the document containing the new population forecasts and quotas had not been published. So we can assume that, yet again, the numbers have been leaked to mates.

We would also suggest that any commercial activity relating to Kangaroos in Victoria would be highly questionable before the new management plan (2024-2028) is signed off by the Commonwealth Government who are required to approve this grim activity, yet the shooters appear to have the quotas.

Kangaroo ‘harvest’ quotas for 2024 report

The Kangaroo ‘harvest’ quotas for 2024 report (November 2024) was finally published on Saturday 23 December. Here is the brief summary and I will write this up in detail next week. It appears that the leaked commercial quota number was almost correct at 156,650, the actual quota in the report is 155,650.

The total number of Eastern and Western Grey Kangaroos they intend to kill is a staggering 236,350. As always, the quotas will not be met, as Kangaroos do not exist in the numbers claimed. These native animals will join a long list of other native species the Victorian Government intends to kill in 2024. They won’t stop until all are gone.

“The estimated total abundance of Grey Kangaroos from the 2022 aerial survey within the seven harvest management zones was 2,363,850 (95 per cent confidence interval: 1,889,300–2,957,550). The recommended maximum total take for 2024 was assessed as 236,350 Grey Kangaroos, comprising 215,200 Eastern Grey Kangaroos and 21,150 Western Grey Kangaroos. The predicted number of Grey Kangaroos permitted for control under the ATCW permit system for 2024 was estimated to be 80,700, comprising approximately 34 per cent of the total recommended take. After adjusting for the number predicted to be taken through ATCW permits, the allocation of Grey Kangaroos for the KHP for 2024 was 155,650”. Victorian Government 23 December, 2023

One question I would ask, is why have the Victorian Government gone against their own policy of shifting their mitigation permits, in the case of Victoria these are called ATCWs, over to commercial? The government plans for 2024 show the opposite, with an increase in ATCW targeted animals, from 69,600 in 2023 to 80,700 in 2024 and a decline in commercially targeted animals from 166,750 in 2023 to 155,650 in 2024.

A couple of reason for this change of direction spring to mind, Kangaroos killed for commercial gain must be accounted for and tags are used, so we know with reasonable accuracy how many were killed (hence we know the percentage of actual take against quota is low and getting lower). ATCW kills are entirely unaccounted for, so the Victorian Government does not know the outcome. Therefore what this looks like, because of the hyper-inflation of population numbers, is that this change is an attempt to moderate the increasing percentage fall in the commercial actual take when measured against the quota, as this fall is an indicator that the population numbers are very wrong. The second reason, which I would discount, given the dwindling populations of Kangaroos on public land, is that Parks Victoria and the Victorian Government are planning to remove what Kangaroos remain on public land. This would be rather silly as they plan to go into these parks commercially in 2025.

2024 Kangaroo quotas Victoria: Key points

  • In Victoria the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos commenced in 2014 as a trial, full exploitation commenced in late 2019, ignoring concerns about both extreme cruelty and the claims regarding populations of Kangaroos in Victoria, which were false.
  • In 2024, two species of Kangaroo will be subject to commercial exploitation, these are the Eastern Grey and Western Grey Kangaroos. All Kangaroo and most Wallaby species in Victoria are killed using non-commercial permits known as ATCWs.
  • The quotas for the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos in 2024 were derived from the 2022 survey.
  • The Victorian Government claims it is targeting 10 per cent of the Grey Kangaroo population in Victoria. The population estimate from which the 2024 quotas are being derived is 2,363,850 Grey Kangaroos (includes 211,500 Western Grey Kangaroos).
  • The population estimates are hyper-inflated, leading to quotas that are far too high and quotas are never met.
  • Kangaroos breed slowly, increases in population estimates can be at biologically impossible rates. How can this happen and why is there such a resistance to auditing the estimates and increases in population when they are clearly impossible?
  • Here we need a clarification, and of course the Victorian Government claims we are not threatening Kangaroo populations. In Victoria, and since its settlement and federation in very recent times (Australia became a nation in 1901), out of 16 species in this family that lived in the state, 7 species are now extinct, 3 more are endangered or critically endangered and 1 more is threatened. So 11 of 16 by government admission, yet the others are booming in population? Well probably not, given this horrible history of species extermination in the state. Our own research shows that two more species, one is currently being exploited commercially, are at grave risk in Victoria, so that makes 13 (out of 16).
  • The recommended maximum total kill for 2024 is 236,350 Grey Kangaroos, comprising 215,200 Eastern Grey Kangaroos and 21,150 Western Grey Kangaroos.
  • A large proportion of females are killed and the numbers above do not include the killing of joeys, which are bludgeoned to death or decapitated with a knife.
  • No account is taken of climate change impacts on wildlife populations and the Australia wide claims that Kangaroo populations are booming, while pretty well every other species is in serious decline, ring very hollow. The carbon cost per dollar value of the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos is very high, this is a diesel fuelled activity, using large vehicles and chiller boxes, with shooters travelling further to mop up remaining Kangaroo populations. Since the full introduction of commercial killing in late 2019, Victoria has had the most devastating fires on record, followed by devastating floods, the impact of which is devastating to populations of wildlife. We should also not forget that the Victorian Government is attempting to block wildlife rescues from public lands. Blocking of rescues commenced 2018.
  • Adult Kangaroos are butchered in situ, guts, heads, hand and feet removed and left where the animals are killed, dead joeys are discarded. As regards commercial exploitation, there is however no minimum size for Kangaroos in Victoria.
  • Of these, the number of Grey Kangaroos targeted by ATCW permits for 2024 will be higher than in 2023. The policy is to shift ATCWs to commercial, in 2024 the opposite trend is evident. The Victorian Government makes a strange claim which I do not understand, stating Kangaroos are in higher abundance (cannot be correct) ‘which has resulted in a reduced allocation for the commercial kill (KHP).
  • The Mallee Shooting Zone, which we have investigated in detail, once had many Kangaroos and now has very few, has no commercial quota allocation in 2024. The reason for this, described by another strange comment which appears in the government’s quota document ‘given there is currently no mechanism available to limit permits under the ATCW permit system’.
  • The Victorian Government claims that the total kill of Grey Kangaroos, ‘through both the ATCW permit system and KHP between 2020 and 2023 (and imputed to the end of 2023) amounted to around 6 per cent of the total Grey Kangaroo population estimated for each of those years in Victoria. Hence, the annual total take over the last four years has remained below the maximum allowable harvest fraction of 10 per cent’. This claim, which is nonsense, because of the hyper-inflation of population estimates and hence quotas, tells us that in the last three years, they have only been able to kill 60 per cent of the Grey Kangaroos targeted by their grim extermination programs. The percentage take against actual, as we predicted continues to decline, year on year. We would suggest that the actual take, given the vastly overstated population estimates, is far higher than 6 per cent as claimed and that population estimates are in the range of three to four times what is likely to remain, given the intensity of killing since 2014. The result of killing so many females and their joeys is that future generations are destroyed.
  • The most troubling aspect of the Victorian Quota report in 2024 is the plan to commence the commercial exploitation of, at this stage Grey Kangaroos, on public lands which will include state and national parks in Victoria. This move was predicted by us as in 2014 as it is the only way the government will be able to sustain its mass commercial slaughter of Kangaroos, because they have been killed in such numbers on private land, that private land alone will no longer be a viable option for the commercial shooters. This change is likely to extend the life of the Victorian Government’s commercial exploitation of wildlife by another four years or so.
  • Along with this unacceptable move, the shooting zones themselves are being rezoned, with what has become the controversial Central shooing zone (because of the high level of complaints), which vanishes in 2025, and strangely (Melbourne is now excluded from the Central zone) the Central zone is merged with parts of other zones, including the depleted Mallee shooting zone. It is evident that this is a number fudging exercise, making it difficult to compare the detail of what has occurred, and to conceal the large regions of Victoria where Kangaroo populations have been largely destroyed by the recent level of killing. These places, like the Mallee shooting zone should have been permanently removed for the commercial killing zones, as Melbourne will be from 2025. I will write separately and in more detail about the rezoning as it requires special attention.

Fig 1: Seven commercial shooting zones in Victoria 2019-2024

Fig 2: Five commercial shooting zones in Victoria 2025 on

  • Highest number targeted in 2024, which still includes Melbourne, will be in the Central shooting zone at 82,050 (35 per cent of total Victorian target), of which 61,700 are for commercial gain. This compares to the ‘outback’ type shooting zone of Mallee, once rich in biodiversity, including Kangaroos, which has a commercial quota of ZERO in 2024.

Some numbers

Figure 3:  Increase in quotas to 2023 (Commercial and ATCW combined)

Note: Decline leading up to COVID year 2020 because of climate conditions, but the killing continued despite lockdowns in Victoria and the devastating bushfires of that summer.

Figure 4:  Kangaroo Harvest Victoria (decline in commercial take against quota from 2020) compared to mainland Australia (actual take against commercial quota in Australia includes Victoria) – per cent

Note: Percentage of actual take increases mainly because the quota is lower in a given year. For example, the 2021 quota for Australia was 1,524,085 lower than the quota in 2020. What was particularly shocking was that for the quota alone, the reduction in the quota between those years was higher than the actual take in those years. From a mathematical point of view we are in extermination territory

2023: what we know so far. 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.

The more they kill, the bigger the population grows. Below are the number of Kangaroos targeted in Victoria since 2010.

  • 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)
  • 2024 – 236,350 (plan) – quota based on numbers derived from 2022 population survey which claimed a 24 per cent increase, that on top of a 41 per cent increase claimed from the previous survey.

Gobbledygook

There is so much silly spin and contradictory nonsense speak when it comes to trying to justify the killing of native wildlife in Australia, we are adding a new section to some stories. Welcome to Gobbledygook.

“The KHMP is administered through the Kangaroo Harvesting Program (KHP), which supports the ecologically sustainable and humane commercial harvesting of wild Grey Kangaroo (Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Macropus giganteus and Western Grey Kangaroo, M. fuliginosus) populations in the state”. Victorian Government

Conduct unbecoming

Providing advice about matters concerning the environment, to State Government Environment Ministers always receives a rebuttal. Nobody actually checks to see if our advice is correct, which of course it is. Our questions, when we ask them, which is not very often, are always strategic and with purpose and that is what they do not like. Here is one of many rebuttal letters from the Victorian Government we have received over decades.

The trick from Victoria is always the same, provide half answers to questions which mostly consist of spin or no answers at all, and then claim you have answered the questions on a previous occasion. They do not like responding to FOI requests either. We have also been trying to set up an appointment with a series of Labor Environment Ministers in Victoria since 2014 and without success.

This letter from a new Executive Director Biodiversity, a public servant in the employ of the Victorian Government sent in late April 2023. There has been no further correspondence, nor did we ever send a letter to this particular individual as claimed.

Thank you for your emails of 27 February, 7 March and 28 March 2023 to the Hon Ingrid Stitt MP, Minister for Environment, about kangaroo populations. As this matter is in my area of responsibility, the Minister has asked that I respond on her behalf.
Regarding your letter (extract) of 27 February requesting a meeting with the Minister, I can inform you that the Minister is unable to meet with you at this time.
As has been communicated in previous correspondence between the Biodiversity Division and yourself, the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action is not responsible for monitoring the compliance of kangaroo harvesters.
I note that the department has already addressed many of the issues, including how population of kangaroos estimated in Victoria and Kangaroo Harvesting Program (KHP), you have raised in your earlier emails and letters, in previous correspondence to you.
I appreciate your interest relating to these matters, as evidenced by the many letters that you have sent to myself and the Minister regarding the KHP and Victorian wildlife. Unfortunately, at this time I do not believe there is any further information that the department can provide to you on these topics that has not already been shared.
Please be advised that the department will only be responding to future correspondence on matters that have not been covered previously.

In contrast to this treatment, the commercial exploiters of wildlife are given a helping hand, even the Victorian COVID app gave you access to commercial Kangaroo shooters, here is the current Victorian Government help, and it takes just three minutes to get the commercial Kangaroo shooter you always wanted.

In another curious occurrence (there are so many such strange things) I had suggested to Environment Minister Stitt’s electoral office staff (Minister Stitt is no longer the Victorian Environment Minister) that it might be a good idea if the Victorian Government spent its money more wisely and not on filming and photographing Andrea and I as we watch Australian wildlife. The curious response to this suggestion was that we should be proud that the Victorian Government is filming and photographing us. If it was not so sad, it would be very funny.

There are many more stories to tell, some are very serious indeed. Those are however for another time.