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Snapshot: The commercial exploitation of Kangaroos in Victoria

Life on land

“The Australian media struggles to understand what is going on, choosing in most part to believe the nonsense they are being fed by press releases from governments and the exploiters of wildlife they support”.

May 21, 2023

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

Why expensive population estimates do not work

In order to maintain the Kangaroo population estimates published by governments, new shooting zones and regions are added as others close because the Kangaroos are gone. In the case of South Australia, new species, as well as new shooting zones are added, as so-called quotas are never met, again and simply because the Kangaroos they are trying to kill do not exist.

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.

Abuse and the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos

A recent report commissioned by a Victorian politician on the impact of the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos (August 2022 Kyahl Anderson, University of Melbourne) on residents and business people in the state found that:

  • The commercial exploitation of Kangaroos relies on no less than 16 ministerial portfolios for its mandate;
  • The report demonstrates the ways in which the Victorian Government’s Kangaroo killing policies are undermining regional communities by recording detailed testimonies from Victorian residents impacted by the killing;
  • That Kangaroo killing in the state is corroding human safety, economic prosperity, community cohesion, mental health, and business and tourism.
  • The report demonstrates that consultations with First Nations People was insufficient and tokenistic.

That the night-time killing is violent, and the aftermath gruesome, generating fear amongst women, families and the elderly.

“We are talking high powered rifles here, the Victorian regulations state, Kangaroos must only be shot with a calibre of ammunition that equals or is greater than 0.224 inches or 5.69 millimetres with a cartridge size of .222R, .223, .22/250 with a soft or hollowpoint projectile of 50 grains or more or 0.204 inches or 5.18 millimetres with a cartridge size of .204 Ruger with a soft or hollowpoint projectile of 40 grains or more. Frightening stuff”. Peter Hylands

Victoria is one big shooting zone

Victoria is divided into seven shooting zones covering the state which even extend into Metropolitan Melbourne. These are places where Kangaroos can be brutally killed for commercial gain.

Currently, two species of Kangaroo are exploited commercially in Victoria, the Eastern Grey Kangaroo and the Western Grey Kangaroo. The Red Kangaroo was removed from the commercial list in Victoria in 2019 because of inflated population estimates.

Mallee shooting zone: we searched for days and found these two Red Kangaroos in 2022

Six critical issues the Victorian Government continues to ignore

The Kangaroo population estimates and population increases published by the Victorian Government appear to be diverging more and more from the likely actual populations of these animals in the state. Population increases, given the significant losses in the last three years, are at a biologically impossible rate.

  • Remaining Grey Kangaroo populations will increasingly be associated with land for wildlife properties, the edge of towns, public lands and wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centres, including wildlife hospitals.
  • This is occurring as Kangaroo populations vanish in remoter regional places like the Mallee Shooting Zone (95 per cent of Victoria’s landmass is now divided into shooting zones for the commercial trade in wildlife) and as population estimates diverge more and more from the actual populations of these animals.This trend is extremely dangerous and distressing for human populations impacted by wildlife killing at close quarters.
  • In Victoria, the commercial trade in Kangaroos, the killing rate and proposed quotas are clearly unsustainable. Off a base population (estimate) of 1.4 million at the beginning of 2018, Kangaroos (theoretically) killed in Victoria from permits issued by DELWP / fires (200,000 estimate) in the period 1/1/2018 – 31/12/2021 is estimated to total 924,694 Kangaroos.
  • Kangaroo populations are at increasing risk, remember that for Victoria the current circumstances for the broader family of these animals are; 7 out of the 16 species present here in the 19th Century are now extinct, I would put 6 more species at grave risk, 2 of which (Red and Western Grey) have been put at risk from the commercial exploitation occurring now. That leaves just 3 species, none of which I would regard as safe from further exploitation. 
  • New South Wales appears to be struggling with the viability of its commercial Kangaroo industry (there are regional differences). That said, in 2020 the commercial harvest quota for New South Wales was 2,126,176 Kangaroos, that is 36.7 times greater than the Victorian quota in that year of 57,900. For 2021, this gap closes a bit, as New South Wales Kangaroo population estimates fall sharply and Victorian Kangaroo population estimates increase sharply, the New South Wales commercial quota for Kangaroos is 1,598,761, this time 16.7 times higher than the Victorian commercial quota of 95,680.
  • New South Wales based Kangaroo shooters are claiming they need 5,000 Kangaroos each year to make their operations viable. Doing some very rough calculations this suggests that the Victorian commercial Kangaroo quota would need to be set at 430,000 Kangaroos to give the current group of Kangaroo shooters in Victoria a reasonable level of prosperity. Even if some of these shooters were part-time, Kangaroo meat prices were higher and more of theKangaroo was utilised, the probability remains, that more than 320,000 Kangaroos would be required to be killed for commercial benefit in Victoria each year. That is nearly three times the current commercial quota in Victoria.The simple problem is that Kangaroos do not exist in these numbers in Victoria and that commercial shooting of Kangaroos in the state is not viable beyond a brief initial period from commencement of commercial killing activities at scale.

Governance standards

Governance standards are described by the following responseto an FOI request: 

“The department does not have any information management system for the recording, tracking or reporting its compliance monitoring and enforcement activities in relation to ATCW permits it issued in 2020 that would enable the department to provide the statistical information and records you have asked for. This is the case for all DELWP regions. The case management system (CMS) that the department uses to manage documents pertaining to the investigation of complaints/referrals/reports received by regional customer call centres or the region’s compliance email inbox regarding illegal wildlife activity, does not have the functionality to generate the statistics you seek either. In order to obtain the data sought, every entry in the CMS must be searched manually in order to identify whether the case relates to an ATCW.After that, the data pertaining to each specific element of your request would have to be manually tabulated from all the ATCW cases identified”. Department of Environment (DELWP) January 2022

Kangaroos with ears shot off are not uncommon
Kangaroos with ears shot off, sometimes both ears, are not uncommon

Key findings Victoria 2022

  • Melbourne Local Government Areas (LGAs) to come under significant shooting pressure because of a significant increase in the number of Kangaroos being targeted by commercial exploitation and damage mitigation permits;
  • Central shooting zone becomes Kangaroo killing hotspot, 65,050 Eastern Grey Kangaroos targeted in just this one zone. LGAs in the firing line in the Central shooting zone are Ballarat, Brimbank, Hepburn, Hume, Macedon Ranges, Melton, Mitchell, Moorabool, Mount Alexander, Murrindindi, Nillumbik, Whittlesea and Yarra Ranges;
  • Changing patterns of share between shooting zones in Victoria, including increased targeting of Metropolitan Melbourne, clearly demonstrate rapid decline of Kangaroo populations in some shooting zones;
  • Share of Western Grey Kangaroos being targeted in total kill is increasing, rising from 8 per cent (14,550 animals) in 2021 to 11 per cent (18,500 animals in 2022);
  • Despite Victorian Government claims that introducing the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos in the state would not increase the number of Kangaroos being killed, the number being killed has near tripled since the introduction of commercial exploitation. This cannot be sustainable as claimed;
  • Female Kangaroos now compose around one third of kill, with large numbers of joeys being killed. Joeys, which represent the next generation, are killed in the most brutal ways, bludgeoning to death is one, decapitation is another; and
  • Kangaroos are butchered where they are killed, body parts including heads, viscera, hands and feet are left in situ for families to find on walks and increasingly this will be a feature in the City of Melbourne.

The escalating slaughter

“The repugnantly named Kangaroo Harvesting Program (KHP) began in Victoria on 1 October 2019 following the Kangaroo Pet Food Trial (KPFT) which commenced in 2014.
If the periods 2009-2013 and 2014-2018 are compared, the rate of killing roughly tripled from 259,288 to 747,659 animals. Sadly, having saved the Red Kangaroo from the pet food can in Victoria over concerns about vastly exaggerated population numbers, the high level of animals subject to the non-commercial ATCW permit in 2019 (10,073 animals) can only be described as malicious conduct”. Peter Hylands

Kangaroo entrapment fence Murray Sunset National Park to the right of image
An extensive wildlife entrapment fence at the edge of the Murray Sunset National Park. If there was any wildlife left in this place, and we made extensive checks travelling along the edge of the park, there would be dead and wounded wildlife hanging in the fence.

Victorian Government authorised Kangaroo killing

Victorian Government authorised Kangaroo killing, commercial and non-commercial permits since 2010 (Eastern Grey and Western Grey Kangaroos and Red Kangaroos until 2019) (numbers in bold authorised under Labor Government): 

  • 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 commercial list)
  • 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 (plan) (Catastrophic floods)
  • 2023 - 236,350 (plan)

Note: The Victorian Government's Department of Environment (DELWP) is trying to shift the majority of permits it issues to kill Kangaroos to commercial. Given that DELWP is issuing permits covering large numbers of Kangaroos in state and national parks this could also be a window for the commercial exploitation of supposedly protected wildlife in the only sanctuaries that remain.

Victoria: The story for 2021

“The actual take against quota numbers have now been published for the commercial trade in Victoria. Original commercial quota for 2021 was 95,680 Kangaroos, actual killed for commercial gain was 62,234. Of those killed 39,355 came from just two shooting zones (out of seven), namely Central and Lower Wimmera. Given the low numbers killed in other shooting zones and the inability to even meet modest quotas, this tells me that the commercial Kangaroo trade in Victoria has a very short shelf life. The actual number killed was composed of 19,405 Western Grey Kangaroos (if so, they will soon be extinct in Victoria) and 29,863 Eastern Grey Kangaroos (the number does not include joeys). Of the total number killed 21,594 were females. It also appears from the figures that a number of additional animals (probably joeys) were sent to the processor. Soon they will all be gone”. Peter Hylands

In 2021, the quota for commercial exploitation of Kangaroos was divided across the seven shooting zones as follows, the Mallee 1,110; Upper Wimmera 9,610; Lower Wimmera 25,850; Central 25,500; Otway 16,500;North-East 8,060 and Gippsland 9,050. 

In 2021 the total quota for the annual slaughter of Kangaroos in Victoria, following claims of exploding populations (an increase of 41 percent following Victoria’s catastrophic bush fires and droughts) was191,200, which included the damage mitigation quota. The commercial quota share was 95,680, a number significantly higher than 2020, when 46,000 Kangaroos were killed for commercial gain (80 per cent of that year’s commercial quota).

Here are the quarterly actuals (with the proviso that theVictorian Government state that the figure for tagged carcasses is inconsistent with the quota consumed figure – I think this might be because the shooters are including unaccounted for joeys in the tagging for carcasses destined for pet food - this is because there is no minimum carcass weight in Victoria, which is very shocking):

  • Q1 – Quota 23,910 / Actual (quota consumed) 13,743 – 33 percent of the Kangaroos killed were female. In Q1 there were no program inspections and one unplanned inspection;
  • Q2 – Quota (including carry over from previous quarter) 26,240 / Actual 17,890 – 34 per cent of the Kangaroos killed were female. InQ2, the Central and Lower Wimmera shooting zones, where Kangaroo populations still remain, were the hotspots for Kangaroo killing. In Q2 there were no program inspections and one unplanned inspection;
  • Q3 – Quota (including carry over from previous quarter) 27,960 / Actual 13,925 – 32.5 per cent of the Kangaroos killed were female. In Q3 there were 14 program inspections and two unplanned inspections;
  • Q4 – The Q4 quota was initially adjusted upwards to 29,646, then 29,950 (from 23,950), because of the accumulating shortfall of actual take against quota, while the full year quota, to compensate for the shortfall, had been adjusted downwards to 93,640. The actual number of Kangaroos killed for commercial purposes in Q4 was 16,174, just 54 per cent of the quota. In the period, because of calendarisation issues, 16,826 carcasses were stored for processing. 90 Kangaroo shooters were operating in Victoria in Q4. There were 123 shooter authorisation in the quarter so the number of shooters appears to be growing as Kangaroo populations decline. 34 per cent of the Eastern Grey Kangaroos killed commercially were Western Greys and 34 per cent of the total number of Kangaroos killed in the quarter were females. The high level of females being killed probably means that at least 2,500 joeys were either killed or starved to death in the final quarter of 2021.

From the quarterly analysis this is the story for 2021: The total number of Kangaroos killed in Victoria for commercial purposes was 61,732 (64 per cent of quota) (excluding joeys) against the original quota for the year of 95,680. Note numbers do not reconcile with the officially reported numbers which were slightly higher.

What is occurring is extremely concerning because the overall shortfall, because the Kangaroos do not exist in the numbers and places the Victorian Government claim, there is likely to be an all-out effort, in an attempt to make the numbers look more reasonable, to kill as many Kangaroos and in as many places as possible, as each year closes, even then they do not get the numbers in the quota. As a top-up measure, wildlife, supposedly safe on public lands, are at increasing and extreme risk of commercial exploitation in Victoria’s National and State Parks, that is, in order to justify the overstated population estimates and the resulting shortfall in actual take against quota.

“On a regional basis I fear for the people of the Lower Wimmera (2022 total government recommended kill all permits and quotas 41,050) and Central Victoria (2022 total government recommended kill all permits and quotas in the Central shooting zone is 65,050). I suspect that, in Central Victoria, the Labor Politicians are going to have a major problem on their hands. Killing and butchering animals with high powered rifles close by peoples’ houses and for hours during the night is cruel, dangerous and totally unacceptable in a modern society. The power placed in the hands of the shooters while completely disenfranchising property owners, is not only criminal, but also bizarre”. Peter Hylands to Victorian Environment Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio

Of grave concern

  • The number of female Kangaroos being killed for commercial gain. The government figures suggest (they appear to have now stopped collecting / publishing the data?) that the numbers of joeys being killed is roughly equal to the number of females being killed (joeys are not accounted for in quota numbers). So that is likely to be taking out three generations ofKangaroos in one kill, the mother, an at foot joey (to 18 months old) and a pouch joey. These young are brutally killed, beaten to death, and the larger joeys are likely being processed for pet food as there are no minimum size requirements for the commercial killing of Kangaroos in Victoria. This cannot be and is not sustainable, as the government claim;
  • Given that the circumstances relating to the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos in Victoria and New South Wales are the same, New South Wales has just released a damning report on its Inquiry into the health and wellbeing of Kangaroos and other Macropods in New South Wales, it is shocking that the Victorian Government has made no mention of the New South Wales Inquiry, indeed taken no account of it, in preparing the 2022 commercial quotas;
  • Shooters are not restricted to a particular shooting zone, so shooters move to where remaining and remnant Kangaroo populations, which are increasingly likely to be located where people live, and among people who love and protect them. It is particularly concerning that the Central shooting zone includes a number of Melbourne local government areas including Hume, Whittlesea, Nillumbik, Brimbank and Yarra Ranges. High powered rifles, wildlife killing and butchering in situ and suburbia do not mix;
  • In 2021, and in the vast Mallee shooting zone, where once large numbers of Kangaroos lived, just 90 Kangaroos were killed for commercial gain in Q1, a further 78 in Q2, pointing to the complete destruction of Kangaroo populations in this vast shooting zone; and
  • We have travelled extensively across Victoria this year and in most places saw no Kangaroos, in places where healthy populations existed just one year ago, there are now very few. What remains are small Kangaroos, these are the ghost joeys struggling to survive without their mothers, they are bedraggled and have little chance of surviving unless they are rescued.

A note on quotas

As for quotas the general rule is that as the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos continues year after year, the gap between quota and actual take widens, many areas in Australia are now at around 15 per cent of actual take compared to quota. What that tells us loud and clear is that exaggerated population estimates lead to quotas that are far too high given actual populations, and that is what drives Kangaroo populations to regional extinctions (out of the 16 species in this family present in Victoria in the19th Century, seven are extinct and the majority of species that survive are in trouble).

Mallee shooting zone at National Park edge
Landscapes in the Mallee shooting zone.

2022 Victoria

Having failed to achieve the commercial quotas for 2021, the government yet again increase the commercial quota in 2022. There is little chance that the new quota will be met. The total commercial value to shooters (gross) of the 2022 take (assuming they shoot them all) is estimated at around $2.8 million, about $31,000 per shooter before costs. The costs to government of enabling and promoting the slaughter of Australian wildlife is far higher and the cost to the natural environment in Victoria and the people that live there is far greater still.

While the commercial quotas for Kangaroos in 2022 in Victoria were determined in November 2021, despite numerous attempts at getting the details, the information was finally released on 22 December 2021. This is now the practice because these numbers are controversial and releasing them during a festive and holiday period, when journalist are also on leave, describes just how abhorrent the conduct enabling the mass killing of wildlife in Victoria now is.

In 2022 the commercial quota for Kangaroos in Victoria has risen to 127,850, including damage mitigation permits, this number rises to 185,850. The claim is, there was no Kangaroo survey in late 2021, that Grey Kangaroo populations in Victoria are similar to that in 2021 (slightly less) at1,858,150 (2021 population estimate 1,911,550).

Total kill quotas for 2022 (damage mitigation permits and commercial exploitation combined) by Victorian shooting zone; Mallee 3,650 /Upper Wimmera 13,350 / Lower Wimmera 41,050 / Central 65,050 / Otway 23,600 / North-East 22,100 / Gippsland 17,050. Total targeted 185,850.

In 2022, the quota for commercial exploitation of Kangaroos is divided across the seven shooting zones as follows, the Mallee 1,050; Upper Wimmera 11,400; Lower Wimmera 30,550; Central 46,150 (near double previous year); Otway 20,650; North-East 4,950 and Gippsland 13,100. Total targeted 127,850.

Central Shooting Zone 2022

The Central Shooting Zone is now commercial killing hotspot in Victoria, bringing Kangaroo shooters ever closure to resident’s backyards.

In Victoria and for the period January to end June 2022, the commercial kill against quota was as follows. The gross value of this terrible trade for the period is estimated at $950,000. This comprised 39,919 Grey Kangaroos, of which 13,652 were female. The quota for the period was 63,925 Grey Kangaroos, therefore 62 per cent of the quota set to-date was met. The greatest concentration of commercial shooters to receive permit allocations in the period were in the Central Shooting Zone at 65 shooters, this compares with the vast Mallee Shooting Zone of just five shooters with commercial allocations.

Landscapes in the Mallee shooting zone
Mallee shooting zone devoid of Kangaroos.

Typical comments from impacted residents

We should note that some people are too frightened to have their names shown publicly.

“We live in a constant state of anxiety and depression. We run a yoga retreat in Dunkeld which attracts customers from around Australia and overseas. We don’t know when the shooter is coming, he comes for several hours during the night and often at around 2am. The shooting, with high powered rifles happens very close to our home and business and we have guests, it is incredibly loud and cuts through the still night air in a way that is hard to imagine and is very frightening, as are the spotlights shining on our house.When I try to stop the shooting, you can’t run a yoga retreat under these terrible circumstances, we are totally ignored. When we contact the Victorian Environment Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio at her office, we are told by staff that it is not their responsibility, yet their website says it is. So we get referred to another government office, this time in Ballarat, and the person answering the phone refuses to put me through and on it goes. What is being done to us, which will destroy our business, livelihoods and investments, is all because one man wants to shoot our beautiful Kangaroos. When he is done there will be nothing left except the heads and viscera of the animals we all love and for our guests to find”. Jane Gibb, Dunkeld, Lower Wimmera shooting zone, Victoria
“After the horrific killing and dismemberment of 21 Kangaroos on 30 November 2021, about a third to half the mob of Kangaroos that live in my valley, I am still very traumatised. Initially I was numb with shock and disbelief that such a thing could be sanctioned and carried out by humans. Since, I have been experiencing a mixture of anxiety, sadness, depression and sheer anger. My neighbours have already made the decision to sell up, and I am contemplating my future here. It feels like post-traumatic stress disorder. In the following day of the killing, I was checking for injured wildlife and orphan joeys, when I came across Kangaroo heads hacked off, paws and intestines, on the land where the killing took place. There is no knowing if heads were removed to cover that there had been no head shot, therefore questioning whether the animal was dead when it was hacked apart.” Resident, Wombat Forest, Central shooting zone, Victoria in note to Peter Hylands

Only the lonely
Only the lonely: last one standing.

Red Kangaroo: No place of refuge in Victoria

The mass killing of Red Kangaroos is occurring in State and National Parks in Victoria and to such an extent that the species will become extinct (following seven other species in this family in the state) unless remedial action occurs quickly.

“For the largest of the Macropods, the Red Kangaroo, the neonate emerges after a short gestation period of 33 -34 days. The little animal makes its precarious journey to the pouch where it attaches itself to its mother’s teat (one of four). The young animal takes its first venture into the outside world at around 27 weeks, these are typically short excursions. The young Kangaroo will continue to suckle for another six months or so, making the time to weaning 14 to 18 months, depending on the species. The dependant relationship between mother and joey is lengthy and very close, and for the observer is one of the great joys of the natural world"

Red Kangaroo

Permits to kill Red Kangaroos in Victoria

  • To date, a number 14.5 times greater than their year 2000 population estimate at a total intended kill of 87,044;
  • For the years 2010 to 2012 permits were issued to kill 70 Red Kangaroos, for the years 2016 to 2018 permits were issued to kill 33,118 Red Kangaroos, a number 473 times higher than when compared to the previous period;
  • In 2017 the permits issued to kill Red Kangaroos exceeded their entire state population estimates by 2,187 animals;
  • During the catastrophic bushfires of 2019 and 2020, and as the world was donating tens of millions of dollars for the rescue and rehabilitation of Australian wildlife, the Victorian Government issued permits to kill 16,648 Red Kangaroos, most, in State and National Parks in Victoria;
  • What has occurred is clearly nonsensical given the number permitted to be killed each year when compared to ongoing population estimates. The question here is where are all these Red Kangaroos coming from? Certainly not from their mothers as the breeding rate required to fit the government’s numbers is IMPOSSIBLE.
  • Since Labor have been in government in Victoria the rate of government wildlife enabled killing has rapidly escalated, in the case of the Red Kangaroo comparing the Liberal Government terms (4 years 2011 – 2014) and Labor (4 years 2015 – 2018) shows that the Labor kill rate for Red Kangaroos was 2.7 times higher for the period, Labor issuing permits to kill 34,268 Red Kangaroo in its first four years in office; and
  • Particularly of concern are the population estimates for the species, which are wrong (inflated) and, even so, the kill quota (the Victorian Government claims that a 10 per cent of population kill rate is sustainable) is hovering around 25 per cent of the estimated population per annum and in one year (given the government’s own numbers) the kill rate exceeds the entire population estimate for that year. My view is that, given the inflated population estimates, the Victorian Government is regularly issuing permits to kill Red Kangaroos that exceed the entire state population. Setting aside the grotesque cruelty, what is occurring is a recipe for extinction. We need an accurate account of how many Red Kangaroos they have actually killed each year since 2016 (most of which were living in parks).

Comments on the impact of the proposed Inglewood processing plant

Some very troubling news from Central Victoria in September 2021 suggested that a local meat works wanted to open up a Kangaroo processing facility, that would, when fully operational, process 2,000 Kangaroos each week. That is 104,000 Kangaroos in one year. In 2021, the entire commercial trade in wildlife quota for Kangaroos in Victoria this year is 95,680. So just one of a number of Kangaroo meat processing plants in Victoria, plans to process more than the quota for the whole state. Even using the government’s inflated population numbers for the shire where the plant will be located, the entire commercial quota for that shire would be consumed in just over a week.The expectation would be that Kangaroo carcasses would be imported from elsewhere in Victoria and neighbouring states. 

“Yes, I know about those joeys. At foot joeys were distressed and bounding aimlessly without their mothers. They couldn’t be caught, so they became increasingly distressed, bloated, and died tragic prolonged deaths. Primarily it was tragic for the young, orphaned joeys. I can’t even imagine. Of course, it was horrible for the humans who wanted to protect and save them but were unable to do anything to help them. The whole situation is immensely tragic” Dr Tamasin Ramsay, Parliament of Victoria
  • Problem ONE: The would-be plant says it will importKangaroos from other states, all of which have steep declines in their Kangaroo populations and are also commercially processing Kangaroos. 
  • Problem TWO: Initially discouraged, now a major part of the exploitation of Kangaroos, females are now being shot in very large numbers(about 30 per cent of the take) and that likely takes out two other generations of Kangaroos, the pouch-young and the at-foot-young still dependent on their mother. These young are beaten to death.
  • Problem THREE: Since the commercial trade was introduced into Victoria in 2014 the killing rate of Kangaroos in the state has all but tripled, while the government claims population increases.
“The big male Kangaroos were the first to be killed and taken. Over the 12 years of commercial shooting here we have seen the struggle for survival that the younger Kangaroos endure and fall victim to in their hundreds. It's not only the milk dependant Joeys as we know, the two and three year old Kangaroos that are still reliant on protection and guidance”.
  • Problem FOUR: There is a lot of collateral damage when you exploit wildlife for commercial purposes, no more so than for Kangaroos.Given the carnage out there, for every Kangaroo killed by the industry for processing another Kangaroo dies - joeys / mis-shot Kangaroos. Because the big males are being shot first and many of these are now gone from the most intensely shot parts of the state, females become the target so the proportion of females being shot is increasing rapidly - that takes out two more generations of male and female kangaroos. The shooters in Victoria were given their license on the basis they did not shoot females with evident young - that of course is completely ignored in the free for all. There is no minimum size in Victoria so even small Kangaroos are being killed and end up in pet food cans.
  • Problem FIVE: Prey switching, the rapid decline of the commercially targeted Grey Kangaroo species will mean that other species will be targeted with the usual spin about booming populations, the Red Kangaroo and a couple of Wallaby species will be high on the list for further exploitation.


“It is fascinating that so many people swallow the spin about booming Kangaroo populations, a few minutes sitting quietly with a calculator would tell them a different story. Australia wide, this must be the world’s worst example, given its scale, of land-based wildlife exploitation”. Peter Hylands

Animal health and child health

In late July 2021, following a series of dog deaths in Victoria from Indospicine toxicity, caused by the consumption of raw meat that had been sold as pet food, the Victorian Government’s Agriculture Department has issued the following warning:

“On a precautionary basis, we are advising that dog owners should not feed fresh or frozen knackery meat, especially Kangaroo meat, sourced from the Gippsland area between 31 May and 3 July. If you have concerns consult your pet food provider to understand where the fresh meat came from and where it was sourced”. 

The words Kangaroo meat were quickly deleted from the warning following instruction. Kangaroo meat was also added to the Victorian Government recommendations for dietary requirements for pre-school children in Victoria.

Conduct of Zoos and the RSPCA

“When zoos are asking the public to donate to them because they care about Australian wildlife, little does the public suspect that zoos too are now complicit in the commercial exploitation of a growing number of Australian species. Kangaroos and Wallabies are in the frontline here. If zoo food and pet food were not a poorly enough thought through end for Australian wildlife, the Victorian Government knows no bounds to its creativity in destroying and exploiting wildlife, introducing Kangaroo meat for preschool children on its recommended lunch menu, and doing so in a time of a zoonotic pandemic. Given China’s and Russia’s well researched concerns about the health consequences of consuming Australia’s native wildlife, one would expect Victoria’s young people deserve something better”. Peter Hylands AWPC Presidents Report 2021

All creatures great and small

"At last count the RSPCA was promoting and selling around 45 pet food products containing Kangaroo meat or bones, including Kangaroo jerky, Kangaroo fillet, Kangaroo tendons and treat Kangaroo and vegies. It beggars belief that an animal welfare organisation can be part of one of the cruelest commercial trades in wild animals anywhere in the world".

After removing all its cruelty information in relation to Kangaroos from its website this is the RSPCA Victoria’s response (name of responder removed):

“In Victoria wildlife sits within DELWP, RSPCA Victoria deals mainly with domestic pets (cats, dogs, horses, small animals) and livestock in numbers of less than ten.  Sorry we can’t assist you on this occasion”.  

The price of the RSPCA's commercial trade in wildlife
The price of the RSPCA's commercial trade in wildlife. This behaviour destroys peoples' lives too as these Kangaroos were loved by the people who lived with them.

We cannot say they are not going extinct – they are

Species flourishing in Victoria in the 1Century and their current status. Many if they survive at all, are no longer present in Victoria.

Status of Kangaroo species and their relatives in Victoria

  • Toolache Wallaby Macropus greyi EXTINCT
  • Eastern Hare Wallaby Lagorchestes leporides EXTINCT
  • Bridled Nailtail Wallaby Onychogalea fraenata EXTINCT
  • Rufous-bellied Pademelon Thylogale billardierii EXTINCT
  • Rufous Rat-kangaroo or Rufous Bettong Aepyprymnus rufescens EXTINCT
  • Eastern Bettong Bettongia gaimardi gaimardi EXTINCT
  • The Woylie or Brush-tailed Bettong Bettongia penicillata EXTINCT
  • Long-nosed Potoroo Potorous tridactylus THREATENED –population in decline
  • Long-footed Potoroo Potorous longipes ENDANGERED –population in decline
  • Western Grey Kangaroo Macropus fuliginosus – when historical distribution records are compared the species is missing from almost 50 per cent of its former range, shot commercially since 2014. POPULATION IN STEEP DECLINE - AT SIGNIFICANT RISK FROM COMMERCIAL EXPLOITATION
  • Eastern Grey Kangaroo Macropus giganteus – former range fractured and fragmented, shot commercially since 2014 - POPULATION IN STEEP DECLINE
  • Eastern Wallaroo Macropus robustus robustus ENDANGERED –extinct across 99 per cent of its former range in Eastern Victoria – REMAINING POPULATION DESCIMATED BY WILDFIRES – CURRENT STATUS UNKNOWN
  • Red-necked Wallaby Macropus rufogriseus – POPULATION SERIOUSLY IMPACTED BY WILDFIRES
  • Red Kangaroo Macropus rufus – restricted in its declining range to far North West Victoria, the species used to occur in at least 50 per cent of Victoria. The species existence in Victoria is directly threatened by Victorian Government actions and has now been driven to the edge of EXTINCTION in the state. Removed from commercial industry list in the state
  • Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby Petrogale penicillata - ENDANGERED –hunted to near extinction in Victoria, in 1908 alone 92,590 skins were marketed by a single company. LESS THAN 60 ANIMALS REMAIN in the wild in Victoria
  • Black Wallaby or Swamp Wallaby Wallabia bicolor - POPULATION SERIOUSLY IMPACTED BY WILDFIRES

International condemnation: The EU

There is a growing concern internationally about the cruelty and scale of the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos. In Europe more than 100MEPs are now active in trying to stop the trade. I personally felt embarrassed by Australian Government’s attempts at disinformation during EU Agricultural trade negotiations during the Kangaroo session as everyone in the room that day knew that what they were being told was untrue.

Kangaroo Protection Acts in the US

“There is great concern among critics that management programs both for individual States and the Commonwealth are insensitive to the plight of Kangaroos during environmental stress periods as during the 1982-1984 drought. The perceived insensitivity at that time was an apparent inability or unwillingness to reduce the commercial ‘harvest’ of Kangaroos in what critics considered a timely manner during an environmental stress period. The critics argue that demands from the pastoral industry and the commercial Kangaroo industry superseded important Kangaroo management decisions. The present concern with insensitivity occurred because some important Kangaroo habitats experienced droughts during 1992 at a time when a record macropod ‘harvest’ quota of 5.2 million animals (including 4,942,000 Red and Grey Kangaroos) was established.” [Federal Register Volume 60, Number 46 (Thursday, March 9, 1995)] Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removal of Three Kangaroos From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife

The Australian Government has worked hard on trying to influence US Governments to remove Kangaroo species from the US threatened species list. That removal has taken us to the dire circumstances now facing Kangaroos across the Australian Continent. The Red Kangaroo, Western Grey Kangaroo, and the Eastern Grey Kangaroo in mainland Australia were listed in the US on December 30, 1974 (39 FR 44990), as threatened species pursuant to the Act and the commercial importation of Kangaroos, their parts, and products were banned. A special rule to allow such importations into the United States after development of adequate State management plans accompanied the listing.

The tables have now turned again in the Kangaroo’s favour, with the Kangaroo Protection Act in California being monitored for breaches in California law as it is illegal to sell any part of a Kangaroo in California. Kangaroo Protections Acts have also been introduced to the Parliaments in New Jersey and Washington DC (Congress 02/08/2021). The Washington Bill would establish new federal crimes related to commercial activities involving Kangaroos and Kangaroo products. Specifically, the bill prohibits the import for commercial purposes, possession with intent to sell, or sale of a Kangaroo; and the introduction into interstate commerce; manufacture for introduction into interstate commerce; sale, trade, or advertisement in interstate commerce; or offer to sell, or transport or distribute in interstate commerce, any Kangaroo product. A violator is subject to civil and criminal penalties. Additionally, a Kangaroo or Kangaroo product used in a violation is subject to forfeiture.

Hattah-Kulkyne National Park 1991-2022

The mass killing of Australian mammal species in Victoria’s State and National Parks and other public lands: unpleasant histories. Note - I am told by the Victorian Government that no commercial exploitation of wildlife has occurred in State and National Parks to date, but they do not rule it out. My view is that we rule it in.

“Warning do not drive on this surface - The pits caused a safety hazard as the soft oozing body fluids of a vast number of Kangaroos caused the surface of this site to be very boggy over the pits.
This is one of the death pits containing the carcasses of thousands of Kangaroos killed in the 1990 -1991 mass killing of Kangaroos. The park’s management have dug a death pit at one of the most obvious areas of natural regeneration and natural dune stabilisation in the park. Red Gum, BlackBox and Callitris Hop Bush were all actively regenerating at and near this site prior to the killings. This destroyed the natural regeneration that was occurring over the site. The pit caused soil damage from which this area will take many years to recover (the 1982 Kangaroo disposal pits are still compacted from the earthmoving equipment as no effort has been made to restore this area).
Digging these terrible disposal pits resulted in significant invasive threats including weeds, introduced by the earthmoving equipment that dug the pits and compacted the land and from the shooters vehicles.
These gruesome Kangaroo pits caused a health hazard, warning signs are here telling visitors not to drink or swim in the water as the oozing body fluids of thousands of dead Kangaroos have permeated through the sand into the Lake. The slimy fluid oozing to the surface above the pit is being washed into Lake Lockie. In times of flood these Kangaroo death pits will be underLake Lockie which connects into Lake Mournpall and Lake Hattah, where people swim and sometimes drink the water. The water from Lake Hattah is pumped to the Hattah township as its major water supply”.

The logic of the killing was senseless in precisely the way it remains today. There are far fewer animals today than there were 40 years ago when the mass killing of native mammals commenced on public lands in Victoria. Much is now an emptiness, a void, where once the energy of nature, in all its beauty, was there to see and to hear.

Kangaroo fence inside the park
The Kangaroo fence inside the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park: July 2022.

The Victorian Government is systematically destroying (and in the cruellest of ways) Australian mammal species that live in National and State Parks, the very last places of refuge. This type of government activism eradicated the Red Kangaroo from another park in the same region, the Wyperfeld National Park, in the 1980s. No one is held accountable and the killing continues in increasing secrecy. This behaviour is not dissimilar to what is occurring in Australia’s Capital Territory (ACT) and in reserves and nature parks and beyond. What we have discovered in the ACT defies any kind of logic, is intensely cruel and completely without justification.

The following piece of nonsense from a poster in the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park Information Centre

“If we can just keep the rabbits and the roos numbers down, it is quite possible that the recovery process could really keep going".

The preamble to this nonsense was yet more nonsense:

“While the Hattah lakes were made a sanctuary in 1915, it was not until 1953 that the grazing of sheep around them was stopped. It was obvious by then that their presence was causing damage to local flora. In 1960, the sanctuary was extended and the area became the Hattah Lakes National Park. Commercial use of the area gradually decreased, with cattle grazing phased out by the late 1960s. In the absence of competition, the numbers of rabbits and kangaroos proliferated dramatically, by 1992 the effect of the grazing on native flora were so destructive that there were very few ground covers or grasses left in large parts of the park”.

Visit to the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park (July 2022)

A recent and comprehensive visit to the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park (July 2022) to look for native mammal species revealed no Kangaroos at all and long grass which will become a fire hazard. Evidence has now emerged from the Victorian Government staff responsible for the killing that they could only find one Red Kangaroo and Six Grey Kangaroos in their latest Kangaroo survey in the National Park, once there were thousands. Comments from government staff were also astounding.

Hattah-Kulkyne National Park
After decades of slaughtering every Kangaroo the Victorian Environment Department (Parks Victoria) can find, and there are none left, this is what the northern section of the park looks like.

We will wait and see if they try to use cattle, sheep and goats to keep the grass down (as occurs in Canberra and New South Wales (the goats) when all the native animals on public land have been killed or lost in other ways. Absurdly, they call this conservation grazing or ecological grazing depending on the state or territory.

Climate change impacts dire, the killing continues

Yet again in Victoria, extreme climate change impacts, this time flooding, does little to curb the appetite for the Victorian Government’s mass slaughter of Australian wildlife.

“Wildlife Victoria volunteers attended a call outside Kyneton on Friday to rescue a small group of Kangaroos trapped in rising floodwaters. Rescuers were unable to reach the Kangaroos due to the dangerous conditions and only two Kangaroos were able to reach higher ground, with the rest, mostly females with young in their pouches, presumed drowned”. Midland Express, October 2022

From the Victorian Government

“The 2022 Kangaroo ‘Harvesting’ Program quota in Victoria has been updated as of October 2022. The quota is now set at a maximum of 118,980. This is spread across the seven shooting zones. The quota available in the North East and Lower Wimmera Shooting Zones has been reduced”. October 2022

Kyneton is in the Central Shooting Zone, the focus of the state's commercial exploitation of Kangaroos.