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Never meeting commercial Kangaroo harvest quotas: What it means?

Life on land

"The quotas are not met, shooters will kill all the animals they can get for commercial gain, because the population estimates are overstated and Kangaroos do not exist in the numbers claimed. The more ‘mature’ the commercial shooting zone, the lower the actual take against quota". Peter Hylands

Peter Hylands

June 1, 2023

Commercial Kangaroo harvest quotas are never met. In 2021, Australia wide (excluding Tasmania), the commercial Kangaroo harvest quotas was 4,464,471 with a special quota of 198,988. The actual commercial take in 2021 was 30 per cent of the quota for that year at 1,344,369 animals. South Australia had the highest share of females in the take at around 45 per cent. Many joeys are killed but not counted, destroying future generations.

In 2020, Australia wide (excluding Tasmania), the commercial Kangaroo harvest quotas was 6,032,595 with a special quota of 228,333. The actual commercial take in 2020 was 20 per cent of the quota for that year at 1,229,510 animals. South Australia had the highest share of females in the take at around 42 per cent.

Landscapes are destroyed by people, not by Kangaroos

Soft footed Kangaroos and their family are keystone species and have existed successfully in diverse Australian biomes for millions of years. Since colonisation (1788) seven species in the Macropodidae family have become extinct and numerous species are endangered or threatened. There are also regional extinctions. Macropods have evolved with their ecosystems and are specialised to those environments. Losing these animals has serious impacts on the places and species where they once existed.

“Kangaroos are ecosystem engineers, meaning that they contribute to the health of landscapes. They consume plant biomass contributing to regeneration, reduce vegetation that are important for bushfire hazard reduction, spread the seeds of native grasses when foraging and fertilise nutrient deficient soils”. IKPA

The commercial exploitation of Kangaroos (currently nine species of Kangaroo and Wallaby) is moving from ‘outback’ Australia, as fewer and fewer Kangaroos remain, to the suburbs of towns and even large cities such as Melbourne. This has significant implications for residents and their safety, woken during the night, as the Kangaroos they love are killed and butchered around them.

When a new commercial shooting zone is added, the killing rate increases rapidly. Victoria is an example where the killing rate has increased fivefold. This is not, and cannot be sustainable, as the dwindling take against quotas describe. As the actual take continues to decline, the share of females killed for commercial gain continues to increase. That in turn means more and more joeys die.

“Kangaroos are some of Australia's most recognisable and well known native animals. They form an integral part of our natural ecosystems, playing an important role in promoting the regeneration of native plants”. DEECA, Victorian Government

The claims from governments around Australia that they are ‘controlling’ Kangaroo populations, Kangaroo reproduction rates are very slow, using a sound and sustainable management plan is not born out by the annual failure to meet quotas.

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 - that is adding new species to the commercial list; ie. South Australia adding 3 new species;
  • Killing more and more females; and
  • Shooting zone extensions, New South Wales are already trying to creep into non-shooting zones (more populous areas) and in Victoria, where the whole state has become a recent shooting zone (7 zones), no zone extensions are possible as the whole state, minus a couple of very small bits, including the Melbourne CBD, are now shooting zones.

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).

It is now likely that the annual quotas in some shooting zones and for some species exceed the entire population in that zone, the outcome, yet more regional extinctions. It is therefore likely that just as Kangaroo populations are exaggerated, that claims about the damage Kangaroos do to farms and other lands is also overstated. In the case of the mainland Tammar Wallaby in South Australia, thought to be extinct until rediscovered in New Zealand, landholders were still claiming that it was a good breeder and complaining about the species, even though there was not a single animal remaining.