Australia’s pastures have been turned to dust bowls with the recent warm temperatures and non-existent rainfall. Farmers in the area are struggling to grow crops and feed their livestock, but does that warrant killing kangaroos?
The country is facing one of the worst droughts in their history. This is the driest the country has been in 50 years. “The state government said Wednesday that 100 percent of New South Wales’ land area of more than 800,000 square kilometers (309,000 square miles) was now in drought,” reports The Telegraph.
Farmers were given the authority to shoot kangaroos that compete with their livestock over the sparse pastures. The reservoirs have dried up and crops are not growing. The dry conditions are expected to continue for the next three months.
Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said, “Many farmers are taking livestock off their paddocks, only to then see kangaroos move in and take whatever is left.” He goes on to say, “If we don’t manage this situation, we will start to see tens of thousands of kangaroos starving and suffering, ultimately leading to a major animal welfare crisis.”
The state government lifted the number of kangaroos farmers are allowed to shoot. Along with that, they are no longer required to tag a dead kangaroo for the state to keep count. The process of applying for permission to shoot has also been made easier.
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Kangaroos are the national symbol of Australia, however, they are seen as more of a pest by many locals. Farmers see them as direct competitors to their livestock’s pastures. So the battle between native and domestic animals begins over food.
Kangaroo rescue centers are seeing an influx in baby and injured kangaroos due to the drought. When they are rehabilitated they are re-released into the wild. However, with the drought and increased shooters, the safe areas are becoming less and less.
One lamb farmer in western Australia goes against the odds and offers his land to a mob of 40 kangaroos. John Daly tells ABC, “It’s such a complicated subject. We have this really bizarre cognitive dissonance. We have [kangaroos] as our national emblem, yet we hate them being in our space.”
Daly did some research to see how much kangaroos really eat compared to sheep. He found, “On the lower end, that’s about six or so kangaroos to one sheep. I won’t say they won’t eat high-protein, high-quality crops like lucerne, because they will definitely have a nibble, but they tend to prefer the tougher, woodier native grasses and things that are considered weeds to most people.”
Kangaloola Wildlife Shelter Inc. posted, “Humans have a terrible habit of jumping at shadows. When faced with a problem, we look around and “spot the culprit”, condemn them and then forever hold them as the problem. It’s all done with no real investigation and even if the facts change in future, the original idea sticks like glue. Poor old kangaroos are despised, disliked and even hated in this country, and yet, curiously we display them proudly as our national symbol. OMG it’s just so frustrating.”
Ray Borda, president of the Kangaroo Industries Association of Australia, states, “Anybody on the land that will make a phone call to the Department of Environment can get permission to shoot almost whatever they want to shoot and it’s unaudited and unchecked and that’s our concern – animal welfare. We see this as probably the worst possible outcome for the kangaroo, but I’ve got to emphasize we do understand the plight that farmers are in.”
Drought is hard on all animals, but there has to be a way to coexist.
Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.