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Kangaroos in the ACT (Canberra)

Life on land

“The ACT continues to be a leader in developing policies that continue to push the limits of what is being done to Kangaroos, what is ‘lawful’, what levels of cruelty are acceptable and what rates of killing can be tolerated”.

Peter Hylands

December 5, 2022

In 2010, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government published its Kangaroo Management Plan 2010 (KMP 2010). Although the government sought public comment on this plan, and several submissions were made by welfare experts, Kangaroo experts and independent ecologists, virtually nothing of the draft Plan was changed in the final Plan to reflect any of those submissions. Since that time the situation for Kangaroos in the ACT can only be described as a complete and inhumane disaster.

Bad policies and total nonsense

The ACT continues to be a leader in developing policies that continue to push the limits of what is being done to Kangaroos, what is ‘lawful’, what levels of cruelty are acceptable and what rates of killing can be tolerated.

As elsewhere, numbers are exaggerated and current killing rates are a very long way from sustainable. All of it driven by concocted ideologies and complex reasoning for destroying the native animals that belong in these landscapes, where they have existed for millions of years.

This is a Labor and Greens Government with, from the left of Australian politics, the standard female Environment Minister (Green).

“Terrible aspects to the treatment of Kangaroos in the ACT include a policy that Kangaroos and their joeys MUST NOT be rescued and rehabilitated if they are injured in the ACT and another, the use of Kangaroo meat as a vector for 1080 poison.
There are very substantial fines for Canberra residents protesting the Kangaroo slaughter on their doorstep and, as in other parts of Australia, the people who care about wildlife have few or no rights. Hardly democratic conduct.
In the ACT there is an all to evident lack of wildlife corridors between nature parks and reserves in the Canberra Park system, the lack of which creates road safety issues and the death of a large number of Australian animals across a range of species as they try to cross the major roads intersecting the parks.
To add to this, exclusion fencing is now being used to exclude wildlife from significant areas within the nature parks”. Peter Hylands

The idea of shooting Kangaroos in Canberra’s nature reserves turned to reality in 2004 when about 800 Kangaroos were shot in the reserve adjacent to Googong Dam. While this land is in New South Wales the land is managed by the ACT Government and hence was this government’s first direct foray into the world of mass killing of Australian wildlife, namely Kangaroos.

Horrific scenes of the slaughter

Since then many thousands of Kangaroos have been shot and bashed to death under instruction from the ACT Government. So not even the Bush Capital is a place that Kangaroos can call home. The long-term contract to keep killing kangaroos has the potential to take every remaining Kangaroo in the region's parklands.

2023 Kangaroo killing in the parks system in the ACT

1,042 Kangaroos will be killed in the ACT parks system in June and July 2023. The killing will occur in six reserves.

The reserves are Mt Ainslie Nature Reserve, Mt Majura Nature Reserve, Mulanggari Grasslands, Red Hill Nature Reserve, Pinnacle Nature Reserve and Molonglo River Reserve.

Yet more nonsense spin from the ACT Government:

“This target is lower than previous years due to good rainfall and the effects of previous Kangaroo management programs.” ACT Government

The reality is there are very few Kangaroos to kill given the aggressive killing campaign over the last few years. The Greens in the ACT Government need to hang their heads in shame given the circumstances and cruelty surrounding this killing.

I have asked the ACT Greens the following questions (June 2023) and they remain unanswered:

  1. When does the current shooting contract expire?
  2. Are any of the Kangaroos being killed in 2023 ending up in the commercial component of this industry in any form - skins / meat / pet food / zoo food?
  3. The reports I have received from around the ACT suggest that it is not only Eastern Grey Kangaroos that are vanishing, all other Macropod species are caught up in the killing. Can you assure me these reports are incorrect?

Irrational wildlife science appears to be commonplace in Australia. Here is just one example: 

“The ACT policy against translocation as an alternative to culling is common to all Australian states and territories. Translocation is not a feasible option. Firstly, it is very difficult to catch Kangaroos and very traumatic for them so there are significant concerns about survival rates during and following relocation. Secondly, the translocation of Kangaroos could cause enormous stress to the animals and put them at risk of starvation by releasing them into an ecosystem that is unfamiliar and unlikely to support additional grazing pressure. It could threaten the other animals and plants in that ecosystem”. ACT Government

In addition to the mass killing of Kangaroos in Canberra’s parks and reserves, permits have been issued to kill Kangaroos on private land. For example, between the years 1997- 2012 permits were issued to 602 properties to kill 91,107 Kangaroos. The actual number killed under these permits in the period was 63,665. In the year 2011, permits were issued to kill a staggering, given the scale of the ACT, 14,030 Kangaroos, the actual killed in that year on private land was 9,381.

A citizen science count of Kangaroos in Canberra in 51 locations, mostly on public lands counted 1,383 Kangaroos, not including pouched joeys.

The killing of Kangaroos in Canberra’s public parks and reserves sine 2015 (not including joeys to 2021) is as follows:

  • 2015 Target 2,466 / Actual killed 1,689
  • 2016 Target 1,991 / Actual killed 1,989
  • 2017 Target 2,603 / Actual killed 2,592
  • 2018 Target 3,550 / Actual killed 3,253
  • 2019 Target 4,076 / Actual killed 4,035
  • 2020 Target 1,958 / Actual killed 1,931
  • 2021 Target 1,568 / Actual killed 1,505
  • 2022 Target 1,650 / Actual killed 1,645 plus 608 joeys
  • 2023 Target 1,042
“Of pouch young detected (n=66), 57 (86%) were unfurred and nine (14%) were furred (Table 2). The majority of pouch young (92%) were euthanased via blunt trauma (n=61) with the remaining 8% (n=5) euthanased via decapitation. All pouch young euthanased via decapitation were unfurred. These pouch young were decapitated using the thumb and forefinger method described by McLeod and Sharp (2014), or were first stunned via blunt trauma, and were subsequently decapitated using the thumb and forefinger method. Pouch young euthanased via blunt trauma had their craniums swung into inanimate metallic parts of the shooting vehicle (as per McLeod and Sharp 2014), and a mean of 2.8 total blows (range 1–7) were struck. The mean duration from pouch removal to a euthanasia method being applied was 3 seconds”. Audit: Animal welfare and procedure compliance for non-commercial kangaroo shooting: Australian CapitalTerritory, 2015

Soon, they will all be gone. The current five-year contract to kill Kangaroos in parks and reserves will see to that.

What was remarkable was that in 2022 the ACT Government could not tell reporters just how many Kangaroos there actually are in the ACT. The reality is that they have butchered so many animals, if they keep going at a similar rate, it won't be long until they are all gone. 

Last three years of killing


In 2020, following Australia’s worst bushfires in living memory, fires in which three billion native animals were estimated to have died, the ACT Government closed nine of the 37 Nature Reserves and set about killing over 1,900 Eastern Grey Kangaroos. Nonsense speak from the ACT Government at the time included:

“Kangaroos are an integral part of the ecosystems around Canberra and we hope the community will understand that the conservation cull is vital for the wellbeing of the environment and the many plants and animals that call our reserves home”.


I visited the ACT Legislative Assembly in the year to discuss ACT’s Kangaroo cull with Green’s politicians, who remarkably appear to be enthusiastic promoters of the idea of killing Kangaroos in the territory’s parks and reserves.

I visited the Assembly with leading wildlife experts and concerned individuals to meet with Greens MP Jo Clay and her staff. Among other things, Jo is the spokesperson for ‘Active Travel and Road Safety, Planning, Parks and Conservation and Animal Welfare’.

The Greens are now a powerful force in the ACT, yet they remain determined killers of Kangaroos in the territory, while the ACT’s Environment Minister, Rebecca Vassarotti, also a Green and defender of the killing and cruelty (based on nonsense) refused to see our group.

So the killing of Kangaroos in the ACT went ahead again in 2021, despite the vast array of evidence that showed it should not have occurred, and despite the great loss of biodiversity in the ACT from climate related fire storms. The Greens in the ACT have yet again been no friend to Australian wildlife, happily this has not been the case in New South Wales and Victoria where the Greens have been very supportive of efforts to safeguard the future of Australian species.

Amidst the usual nonsense and spin from the ACT’s Kangaroo killers (soon they will all be gone),

"Tonight, 16 May 2021, park gates will close and the killing of yet another 1,568 Kangaroos will commence in these nature reserves: Mt Ainslie Nature Reserve; Mt Majura Nature Reserve; Farrer Ridge Nature Reserve; East Jerrabomberra Grasslands; Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary and Goorooyarroo Nature reserve. The 2021 killing program ended two weeks earlier than planned and a further 1,505, lower than the original target, Eastern Grey Kangaroos were killed. The Canberra Times reports that “the Mount Ainslie, Mount Majura and Farrer Ridge nature reserves have now completely reopened, along with East Jerrabomberra Grasslands and Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary”.

In an attempt to make these horrific crimes against the natural world appear acceptable and even perhaps useful, the ACT Government came up with the following grotesque bit of flummery:

“Up to 700 Kangaroo carcasses from the 2021 conservation culling program will be donated to an endangered native species breeding program. This initiative supports conservation of an endangered species and reduces waste produced by the conservation cull”. ACT Government


In 2022, the plans for the mass killing of Kangaroos in Canberra were announced on Federal election eve. In 2022 the Labor and Greens Government in the ACT planned to slaughter 1,650 Eastern Grey Kangaroos and their young in the ACT's 'nature' reserves.

In 2022 the killing started on the 23 May 2022 and ended 23 July 2022. Nine reserves were closed during this time and 1,645 Kangaroos plus their joeys (608) were slaughtered. 722 adult males were killed and 923 adult females plus their young, thus taking out the next generation.

The actuals are listed by 'nature' reserve:

  • Mt Ainslie Nature Reserve – 695 killed plus joeys
  • Mt Majura Nature Reserve – 0?
  • Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve – 159 killed plus joeys
  • Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary - 160 killed plus joeys
  • Red Hill Nature Reserve – 500 killed plus joeys
  • West Jerrabomberra Grasslands Reserve – 131 animals killed plus joeys
  • Isaacs Ridge Nature Reserve – 0?
  • Mount Mugga Mugga Nature Reserve – 0?
  • Callum Brae Nature Reserve – 0?

The usual silly nonsense is being used to justify the mass killing of these animals. The ACT Government has not answered any of my questions, apart from regurgitating the spin, including that they call this slaughter a ‘conservation cull’. You can be absolutely certain that there is nothing conservation about it.

“In 2017 and in the ACT, Eastern Grey Kangaroos were declared a controlled native species under the Nature Conservation Act in recognition of their potential to impact on environmental, economic and social values”.

It is shameful that a region in Australia, among the highest income earners, with the highest disposable incomes, and the highest levels of ‘education’ do not have the sense to protect the wildlife that remains. I can tell you it is vanishing, and fast. 

In 2022 the killing started on the 23 May 2022 and ended 23 July 2022. Nine reserves were closed during this time and 1,645 Kangaroos plus their joeys (608) were slaughtered. 722 adult males were killed and 923 adult females plus their young, thus taking out the next generation.

More disinformation from the ACT Government:

“Kangaroos are culled according to the National Code of Practice for the humane shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for non-commercial purposes. Shooting is recognised by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments and RSPCA Australia as the most humane method of culling”.

Time for some truth telling

A note on National Code of Practice for the humane shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies

Australia’s commercial trade in wildlife and 'control' practices, and specifically in relation to Kangaroos, is recognised internationally as the most cruel and extensive exploitation of wild land-based mammals on Earth.

“One of the reasons gentle Kangaroos are exploited is that they are much easier for shooters to kill and then to transport, because the size of these animals makes it possible for an individual with a ute to enter this activity”. Peter Hylands

An update to the National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes (the Code) was released on Wednesday 18 November 2020. The protections for Kangaroos were further weakened by this update.

The purpose of these codes of practice in relation to Kangaroos in Australia are twofold:

  1. To legitimise extreme acts of cruelty which would otherwise be illegal by negating animal cruelty legislation; and
  2. To create the impression for consumers, particularly overseas consumers, that Australia’s trade in wildlife, in this case members of the Kangaroo family, is humane and is closely managed for compliance, nothing could be further from the truth.

Our submission (AWPC) to this government funded organisation was an attempt to moderate the extreme cruelty and evident dishonesty.

AgriFutures, the organisation responsible for the update of the national code (Federal Government funded) took precisely no account of what we had suggested, our submission was completely ignored, never acknowledged and we were not informed of the publication of the new code – sounds familiar does it not?

So a long-established Australian charity and its members were treated with complete contempt by the individuals preparing the update. I have personally prepared a large number of submissions and this excuse for a consultation was the worst I have seen anywhere.

Terrible deaths: How Kangaroos die in the Australian capital

The following extract is taken from a post mortem examination conducted by the eminent wildlife carer, veterinary surgeon, doctor of human medicine and anaesthetist, Dr Howard Ralph.

The animal in question was a young male Eastern Grey Kangaroo. The animal was killed (mid 2012) during an ACT Government sponsored killing event of Kangaroos in the capital’s nature reserves. The post mortem was conducted in New South Wales.

These types of death are common and we have seen far worse on a vast and increasing scale.

I will jump straight to the interpretation – The first wound to the face was consistent with a gunshot from above, the bullet entering at the dorsal part of the right-hand side and exiting at the level of the mandible and causing massive damage to the bone and teeth. That was likely to be the primary wound of a series of three wounds and it is not likely to have been fatal.

The second wound, to the skull and brain, caused extensive trauma / damage to both structures and is consistent with blunt trauma caused by a blow with a heavy object.

Considering the bleeding along the dorsum of the neck and the series of three assaults on this Kangaroo, this trauma to the head was unlikely to have caused immediate death.

The third wound is consistent with a penetrating knife wound to the neck. The skin, muscle, vessels and trachea were divided in such a manner as to be also consistent with a deep knife injury. The presence of blood aspirated into the trachea, bronchi and lung is consistent with aspiration before death.

The above series of lesions indicates that the Kangaroo was first shot, then bludgeoned on the head and then stabbed in the neck. The evidence is consistent with the Kangaroo being alive until finally being exsanguinated and asphyxiated by a laceration to the throat . The Kangaroo very likely suffered severe pain and distress for some time during this progressive attack, until the fatal exsanguination and asphyxiation.