Aussie army gets approval for killing kangaroos
Thursday, June 26, 2003
CANBERRA, Australia -- The Australian army will kill up to 15,000 kangaroos to keep a southeastern army base from being overgrazed, an army spokesman said Wednesday.
The Defense Department said the plant-eating marsupials threatened the environment in the 104,000-acre Puckapunyal training ground near Melbourne, said Brigadier Mike Hannan.
Animal activists vowed to protest, saying the real problem was a fence surrounding the training ground that prevented the kangaroos from roaming freely. Animal Liberation Australia spokeswoman Rheya Linden said more killing could not be justified.
"Kangaroo numbers are severely reduced, not only because of the slaughter last year but because the drought has taken its toll as it has on wildlife everywhere," she said.
The base is about 62 miles north of the Victoria state capital, Melbourne.
The decision was made after an April census found 36,000 kangaroos on the base and environmental consultants said the area could only sustain 10,000 of the animals because of a drought, Hannan said.
"The problem is one of environmental degradation; the land is overgrazed and the kangaroos themselves suffer pretty badly once all the food is gone for them," Hannan said. "We don't want this area to be a dust bowl, it is not a realistic training environment."
Hannan said licensed shooters would kill 6,500 eastern gray kangaroos to start. Another count would be made at the end of August before a decision is made to continue the killings.
More than 20,000 eastern gray kangaroos -- many of them starving -- were killed at the base last year.
The Victorian Department of Environment and Sustainability approved the killings after the kangaroos overbred and devoured much of the area's vegetation.