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Publications archive - Biodiversity

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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Humane harvesting of Kangaroos

Environment Australia, 2003


Australia is proud that its laws concerning wildlife trade and management are some of the most stringent in the world. Any harvest of wildlife is managed in a way that ensures the ongoing survival and health of our unique and diverse animals and plants, while also allowing us to maintain the well-being of our society and economic prosperity.

Background

There are 55 species of kangaroos and wallabies in Australia today, only four of which will be commercially harvested in 2003. The Red kangaroo, Eastern grey kangaroo and Western grey kangaroo are the most abundant and make up over 90 per cent of the commercial harvest. The combined population size of these three species fluctuates with seasonal conditions and exceeded 50 million animals in 2001.

All the species that are subject to commercial harvesting are common and could in no way be considered endangered species. Commercial harvesters have expert skills in distinguishing between the common harvested macropod species and the endangered or vulnerable species.

How do Australia’s laws protect kangaroos?

At a national level, wildlife management plans and the export of Australian native animal products are controlled under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The provisions in this Act ensure that Australia continues to have the toughest wildlife trade laws in the world.

The EPBC Act ensures that any commercial use of exported Australian native wildlife is managed in an ecologically sustainable way under an approved Wildlife Trade Management Plan. Management plans may only be approved following a rigorous assessment demonstrating that they will not have a detrimental impact either on the harvested species or their ecosystems. Animal welfare considerations are a priority in the legislation. Under the EPBC Act, the Government is able to ensure proposals for the sustainable use of wildlife observe strict welfare requirements.

Kangaroos are also protected by State and Territory legislation. They can only be harvested as part of approved Kangaroo Management Plans that set appropriate limits for the numbers of kangaroos that can be commercially harvested.

Commercial quotas

A precautionary approach is taken in the setting of commercial quotas for kangaroo harvesting to ensure that the harvest is sustainable. The quotas are set on the basis of scientific recommendations after consideration of population size and trends. Market forces are not considered. Quotas set a safe limit to the harvest but are not targets that must be reached. For instance, in 2001 the overall commercial harvest was only about 61 per cent of the total approved quota. Conservation of the species remains the foremost consideration and quotas will be reviewed should monitoring, required by the approved management plan, indicate a review is warranted.

Humane Code of Practice

A Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos is in effect and was prepared cooperatively by all government wildlife authorities in Australia. All harvesting States support the Code, and compliance with the Code is a license condition for commercial shooters in all States. The professional shooters involved are skilled and operate in accordance with the Code to ensure that the shooting of kangaroos is done in a humane manner.

Furthermore all States and Territories have legislation concerning animal welfare matters and are able to prosecute offenders. Any person with evidence of cruelty to kangaroos is urged to pass it on to the appropriate authority so that action can be taken.

An Environmentally Friendly Australian Industry

Kangaroo harvesting, carried out under the strict environmental controls provided by the EPBC Act and other legislation, is an environmentally friendly and uniquely Australian industry. Kangaroos have evolved as part of the Australian ecosystem and, with their soft feet, do not cause soil erosion or landscape damage on the rangelands they graze. The commercial harvesting of widespread and abundant kangaroo species is an ecologically friendly industry that contributes to the sustainability of the Australian environment.

Further information

For more information on Australia’s wildlife protection measures, contact Environment Australia’s Community Information Unit on:

Email: ciu@environment.gov.au
Phone: 0011 61 1800 803 772
Fax: 0011 61 2 6274 1970