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Kangaroo: October 2022 update Victoria

Life on land

“In October 2022 Greg Keightley, Kangaroos Alive, reported that two shooting zones, Lower Wimmera and North-East zone, had bee closed for the rest of the year”.

Peter Hylands, Andrea Hylands

May 21, 2023

News of shooting zone closures in Victoria comes in the same month that the media, including the ABC, reported that the RSPCA has announced it will withdraw products containing Kangaroo meat from its shelves due to "concerns about animal welfare implications in the sourcing of these products". The not-for-profit animal protection organisation said the move followed examination of its "sourcing practices, including our retail operations".

Analysis of the situation

Three weeks ago on 15th September 2022, the Victorian Government through its Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), gave notification of low level aircraft surveys which were conducting Kangaroo counting surveys across Victoria between 18th September and 16th October 2022.

Advice from DELWP was given during this period that there will be adjusted maximum quotas for Kangaroos as of October 2022. Two zones had quotas reduced for October to December 2022. These were the Lower Wimmera (30,550 reduced to 22,915, that is 25 per cent lower) and the North-East (4,950 reduced to 3,715, also 25 per cent lower).

The revised total commercial quota for Victoria in 2022, was reduced from 127,850 to 118,980 (6.9 per cent lower). It would appear that the aerial surveys carried out in September and October 2022 have found an alarming reduction in remaining Kangaroo populations to apply this reduction.

The Loddon Herald newspaper reported on 6th October that DELWP had closed two shooting zones, Lower Wimmera and North-East zone completely as from October to 31st December 2022. This would indicate that the aerial surveys have shown a very serious reduction in Kangaroo populations and that quota allocations based on the population estimates may be very wrong. The commercial shooters operating in the Lower Wimmera zone are reporting that they still have 7,800 'commercial tags' that now cannot be used to kill that number of Kangaroos.

Implications of over stating population numbers

The concern now is that with the closure of the two zones, particularly the Lower Wimmera Zone which borders the Central Zone, that more shooters will heavily target the Central Zone to remain economically viable for as long as they can. This brings the shooters into densely populated areas including a significant number of suburbs in the City of Melbourne. This is extremely dangerous given that high powered rifles are used.

Also bordering Lower Wimmera are Otway and North-East Zones, which combined give access to 25,600 Kangaroos along with Central Zone of 46,150. Additional pressure from shooters will also be applied in these zones.

To end June 2022, none of the seven shooting zones were able to reach their quotas with significant shortfalls occurring in the Central, Otway and North-East Zones. This means two things, a backlog of unused tags and the likelihood that Kangaroo populations have been significantly reduced at an unsustainable level in these zones mirroring what has occurred in the other four zones.

Closing shooting zones for a couple of months has little impact on Kangaroo populations as a proper recovery period for Kangaroo populations would be years not weeks. Young Kangaroos are dependent on their mothers for around a year and a half, depending on species. Large numbers of very young Kangaroos are now being killed and are not accounted for. So the next generation is being killed, along with their mothers. This behaviour cannot be sustainable.

For the record

As you can imagine, we have described what is occurring to wildlife to both politicians and public servants in Victoria, that includes birdlife, Kangaroos and numerous other species, for many years and we have provided lots of evidence to back up what we are telling them.

We have described these things with great accuracy, including advising the government about what would happen if they continued to allow and promote the mass killing of wildlife. The responses we do get from government are continual denials and rebuttals and attempts to refer us to other departments or government organisations.

We have attempted to meet with the Victorian Government Labor Environment Minister since 2014 without the courtesy of a proper response. We have also been blocked from attending meetings and media events, knowledge is clearly an unwanted commodity. Even the most horrible human rights abuses are ignored and the victims vilified.

At the beginning of October 2022 we came across the current and long serving Victorian Government Environment Minister during a shopping trip. We spent about 20 minutes discussing the issues surrounding the lawlessness of what was occurring and governance standards and behaviours of the government in relation to Australian wildlife. What the Minister said was she was not familiar with the detailed information (sent by courier and email), some of it utterly shocking, we had sent her, nor of the endless attempts and requests for a meeting about these matters. She also said she was unfamiliar with the numerous issues we had raised.

What follows is a response (two extracts) from the public servant ‘responsible’ for biodiversity in the state, the response is dated 8 July 2022:

“Thank you for your emails of 30 May 2022 and 6 June 2022 to the Hon Lily D'Ambrosio MP, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Action and myself about Kangaroos and other wildlife matters. As this matter is in my area of responsibility, the Minister has asked that I respond on her behalf”.
“I appreciate your conviction relating to your concerns, 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. Should you not be satisfied with this approach, public sector issues or complaints from members of the public can be directed to the Victorian Ombudsman”.