The ACT Government will shell out nearly a million dollars over the next five years for shooters to humanely cull kangaroos in the Territory’s nature parks and reserves.
The $880,000, five-year contract, awarded to Strathbogie Wildlife, includes this year’s cull of almost 2000 Eastern Grey Kangaroos currently being undertaken and options for the following four years.
The contractor must provide two teams of a shooter and driver each, plus vehicles and equipment for the annual culls that can be conducted between 1 March and 31 July.
The teams will operate at night with ATV and 4WD vehicles in uneven and sometimes steep terrain and remote locations under observation by a Territory veterinary officer and/or independent inspector.
The contract says the shooting may attract protestors, and intense media and political scrutiny that can cause delays, and the teams must operate covertly, entering and exiting sites without being noticed.
They must use telescopic sights, thermal and night vision technology to locate and shoot kangaroos with very high accuracy, as well as use silencers to avoid attracting attention.
Carcasses must be taken to a nominated spot so they can be disposed of by ACT officials. They cannot be used to supply meat for human consumption or by pets and will be buried.
In previous years a proportion of kangaroo meat from the cull was processed into baits for use in the ACT Government wild dog and fox control programs.
The ACT Parks and Conservation Service says it is too expensive to commercially process the low number of carcasses generated in the culls.
However, the ACT Government has commissioned a paper on carcass utilisation options that will be completed by spring.
On-ground service teams will collect data including species, sex and number shot, GPS location of wounded and unrecovered animals, and the number of pouch young euthanised.
The teams must comply with the National Code of Practice for the humane shooting of kangaroos and wallabies for non-commercial purpose, and pass a knowledge test of the Code.
The current cull began on 15 June after being delayed due to coronavirus restrictions. The cull is expected to be over by 1 August.
The impact on vegetation of record-breaking heat and dry conditions over the past 12 to 18 months has meant the number of kangaroos in this year’s cull has been reduced. No culling will take place in the fire-affected Namadgi National Park or Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.
The cull target of 1958 is just under half that of the 4035 kangaroos killed last year.
It will occur in nine nature reserves and adjacent territory land in the ACT. The sites are closed in the evenings from Sunday to Thursday, but are open during the day and on weekends from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon. The sites are Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve, Isaacs Ridge Nature Reserve, Mt Mugga Mugga Nature Reserve, Crace Grasslands Nature Reserve, Gungaderra Grasslands Nature Reserve, Mulanggari Grasslands Nature Reserve, Goorooyaroo Nature Reserve, West Jerrabomberra Nature Reserve and Callum Brae Nature Reserve.
The ACT Government conducts the culls to ease grazing pressures and protect grassland species but usually attracts protest from animal liberation groups.