There’s a better way to manage kangaroo populations – study

Landholders need to turn professional in controlling kangaroo populations on their properties and regard the iconic Australian animals as assets rather than pests, new research led by The Australian National University (ANU) has recommended.

ANU Professor George Wilson, the lead author of the paper published in peer-reviewed journal Australian Zoologist, said millions of kangaroos died and were wasted in 2018 – without good conservation or animal welfare outcomes.

The paper discusses the benefits of landholders becoming professional kangaroo population control agents to avoid kangaroos becoming overabundant in droughts. It also acknowledges that changing the status of kangaroos is a complex undertaking and begins with increasing the dollar value of kangaroos as well as investment in research and development.

Professor Wilson said landholders who wanted to take advantage of the kangaroos on their properties should be trained to become professional population control agents to improve kangaroo welfare, and to achieve better outcomes for the environment and conventional livestock.

“Landholders should take on this professional role and see kangaroos as assets, not pests,” said Professor Wilson from the Fenner School of Environment and Society.  

“It could even lead to fewer methane-producing livestock and more kangaroos producing low-emission meat. Higher value kangaroos would enhance sustainability and bring other benefits to both Indigenous and other landholders on whose properties they occur.”

Professor Wilson said non-commercial culling was increasing because landholders sought to stop kangaroos from competing with their conventional livestock.

“This form of killing leads to poor animal welfare outcomes and considerable wastage,” he said.

Professor Wilson said governments set harvesting quotas as a proportion of existing populations.

“An alternative would be to set population targets based on total grazing pressure that takes account of densities of other herbivores,” he said.

“It would reverse the situation where landholders are expected to carry an unstated number of animals that has no relationship to the carrying capacity of their properties, seasonal conditions or competing land uses.”

Dr Wilson co-authored the paper with Dr Melanie Edwards from Australian Wildlife Services: https://publications.rzsnsw.org.au/doi/abs/10.7882/AZ.2018.043

FOR INTERVIEW:

Professor George Wilson
ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society
T: +61 2 6281 2160
M: +61 418 236 575
E: george.wilson@anu.edu.au

For media assistance, contact Will Wright from ANU media on +61 2 6100 3486, the ANU media hotline on +61 2 6125 7979 or at media@anu.edu.au

About The Australian National University

ANU is a world-leading university in Australia’s capital city, Canberra. Our location points to our unique history, ties to the Australian Government and special standing as a resource for the Australian people.

Our focus on research as an asset, and an approach to education, ensures our graduates are in demand the world-over for their abilities to understand, and apply vision and creativity to addressing complex contemporary challenges.

The Australian National University
East Road, Acton
2601 Canberra