this website uses cookies. by continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our cookies policy.
got it  X

When the shooters come to town

Life on land

“A practice that started in the outback, out of sight and out of mind, now occurs in the suburbs of Melbourne, this has happened as Kangaroos have been obliterated in the great open spaces of Australia”. Peter Hylands

Peter Hylands

May 21, 2023

We all need to understand what happens in the aftermath of the shooting. The checking to see no animals were injured on the property we are staying at, dealing with the distress of pets, the utter feeling of disempowerment and depression of all present as the collateral damage from the nights activities is dealt with, continued until 4am. The next day is ruined in terms of any possibility of working and so the damage continues. Forget thinking about getting back to business activities.

The Kangaroo in the picture above lives in a regional location where commercial shooters are active. This Kangaroo was lucky to only get his right ear shot off.

Commercial exploitation of wildlife: Mount Alexander Shire, case study for Local Governments in Victoria

  • The Mount Alexander Shire is part of the Central shooting zone (1 of 7 in Victoria) which includes a number of Melbourne LGAs. The Central shooting zone has experienced rapid population growth (people) and development;
  • The Central shooting zone, which still has populations of Kangaroos, is now the focus for commercial exploitation of Kangaroos in the state;
  • The 2023 Kangaroo kill quota for the Central shooting zone is 82,050, which includes a commercial quota of 65,100, this compares to the Mallee shooting Zone in the North West of the state (rural type outback with once significant populations of Kangaroos) of a commercial quota of 1,550;
  • The commercial industry uses high powered rifles and butchers animals in situ, leaving body parts including intestines, shooters are required by permit to bludgeon to death or kill by decapitation all in-pouch and at-foot joeys;
  • The share of female Kangaroos and joeys being killed in Victoria has risen alarmingly, the slaughtered joeys are not counted in the statistics;
  • Kangaroo population estimates are significantly overstated. The Victorian Government claims that the Kangaroo population in the Central shooting zone has increased by 161,600 over the previous year estimate, giving a total population for that zone of 820,550, this despite development and industrial scale killing in the zone (Note: Kangaroo population surveys in Victoria now occurring every two years).

Mount Alexander Shire and council responsibilities and liability

  • Given the pressure on the Central shooting zone because of its high quotas relative to other shooting zones and its high population growth (people), this brings shooters with high powered rifles in close proximity to people’s houses and businesses. This is extremely dangerous;
  • The killing of Australian wildlife in this way creates division in communities that once got on with each other;
  • Amenity and health: Commercial shooters operate during the night and are not required to advise residents when and where they are working (they require permission from a land owner but this impacts the neighbourhood). Animals are butchered in situ, leaving body parts (depending on the number of animals killed this can be a sizeable amount of entrails, heads, feet and so on). The butchered Kangaroos are then transported through regional towns and along main roads to chiller boxes or processing plants (a carbon intensive industry). This can be extremely distressing for residents who have no rights in the matter; and
  • The Victorian Ombudsman has said that councils are responsible for amenity and will be investigated if a council does not respond to concerned residents within a period of six weeks. Councils here are in a hard place, because like their residents, they have no evident rights in relation to these matters.

Commercial trade in wildlife (Kangaroos) economics and sustainability

  • Governments and the Commercial Kangaroo Industry claim that they can’t keep up with increasing demand. This is untrue. Demand for Kangaroo products, including meat has been declining since 2009 following the loss of the Russian Federation market (health related) that constituted 70 per cent of Kangaroo meat exports. This decline in demand has been extensively documented in NSW Kangaroo Management annual reports 2010 to 2021 and KMAP (NSW) Minutes of Meetings 2010 to 2021. As well, ABS data based on AHECC classifications note significant declines in Kangaroo meat exports between 2014 and 2019. ABS data also confirmed that in 2019-2020, approximately $12.8 million worth of edible Kangaroo meat was exported to 15 countries by four export establishments;
  • By its nature and general conduct the commercial trade in Kangaroos has a track record of human rights abuses and significant damage to regional businesses. For example tourism businesses cannot operate without interruption while the Kangaroo shooters are at work;
  • Even a cursory investigation of the statistics regarding Kangaroos in Victoria shows clearly that the commercial exploitation of two species of Kangaroo in Victoria (only one species is present in the Central shooting zone) is not sustainable, and as a result does not represent a sustainable business opportunity for shooters;
  • The Commonwealth Government gives the gross value of production Australia wide as (delivered to processor) as $25,009,820 (Commonwealth Government Gazette for period 2020-21). Kangaroos are a cheap source of pet food meat; and
  • The world does not like this trade in wildlife, because of its blatant cruelty and health issues. There area growing number of Kangaroo protection acts across the US and European Parliaments and the EU (including numerous politicians including MEPs) are actively trying to stop the trade. Many of the world’s great brands have now banned Kangaroo products from their supply chains.

A note on the use of silencers and suppressors by the commercial Kangaroo industry in Victoria

“However, the Victorian Labor Government and Victoria Police both say they supported the current regulatory approach to silencers (that is continuing to ban their use). The state opposition also said it would oppose the bill”. ABC, June 2018

  • Suppressors may not be specifically banned throughout Australia but their status as prohibited weapons, available only under special permit in most states, effectively outlaws them for the vast majority of shooters. New South Wales now allows recreational hunters to use silencers (sound moderators), as does Victoria in the case of the commercial exploitation of wildlife;
  • In other jurisdictions silencers are prohibited because they are seen as being too dangerous;
  • Sound moderators are a public safety issue as the public is unaware that shooting with high powered rifles is occurring. Sound moderators are used in Victoria by shooters who kill Kangaroos for commercial gain, the purpose, to conceal the activity from residents (as people become distressed seeing the animals they love killed and butchered) and to mitigate the likelihood of protest from residents who, when sound moderators are used, may only discover what has happened during the night when they awake to scenes of butchery; and
  • The use of sound moderators in the Central shooting zone is extremely dangerous and intimidating but the Victorian Government ignores concerns.