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Skippy lovers keep the cull in court

By johnboy 12 June 2013 43

TAMS brings word that their cull remains tied up in the Following an ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) hearing today, Territory and Municipal and won’t be heard until mid July.

Following an ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) hearing today, Territory and Municipal Services will delay the commencement of the conservation cull. This is to allow time for the Tribunal to consider the merits of the Conservator’s decision to issue licences to Territory and Municipal Services for the purposes of undertaking a conservation cull of 1455 eastern grey kangaroos at seven reserves.

“It is important to understand that the outcome today was not about the science that supports the conservation cull,” said Daniel Iglesias, Director, ACT Parks and Conservation.

“The finding today established that the parties have standing for the Tribunal to hear the case for and against the issuing of the licences to undertake the conservation cull. The next hearing will be held on 8 and 9 July 2013.

With a pretty tight window to conduct the cull all the protestors need to do now is keep it in front of the tribunal.


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Skippy lovers keep the cull in court
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IrishPete 10:39 pm 20 Jun 13

MrBigEars said :

Or, knowing the likely rate of re-invasion, keeping numbers low during the winter-spring protects the carrying capacity of reserve when feed is low. The kangaroo population then re-expands into the reserves from surrounding areas when the population increases, typically after better rainfall event. Kangaroo meta-population stable over time.

Complex systems with diverse drivers defy linear rationalising.
http://theconversation.com/common-sense-wont-help-you-understand-climate-11805

But kangaroo populations increase too slowly for it to be in the order you describe – rain comes, kangaroo population in surrounding areas increases, kangaroos move into culled areas. Based on the dates and populations provided, roos must be moving into the culled areas before the population in surrounding areas has a chance to increase significantly. Whether enough time has elapsed for the grassland and little critters to recover, I don’t know.

There remains the alternative explanation, that the counts are wrong.

IP

MrBigEars 8:47 am 20 Jun 13

IrishPete said :

From today’s Canberra Times letters page – says it all really. Either the CT is completely misreporting the “science”, or the “science” is really shoddy.

“Breeding misinformation

In the article ‘Roos bounce back after cull’ (June 15, p6) it is stated that, in 2008, 180 kangaroos were counted and 140 killed at Callum Brae. This would have left about 40 kangaroos with roughly equal numbers of males and females. Next year, the article states, there were 290 kangaroos in the reserve. This means that about 20 breeding females must have produced something like 12 or 13 joeys each! By 2011, according to figures in the article, the fantastic breeding rate had dropped to about seven joeys per female.

For those who might believe these figures, breeding females (and these are only a proportion of the females in a mob) produce only one joey per year and these don’t all survive.

It is this sort of ”evidence” that makes the necessity for the killing questionable.”

The obvious answer to me (if the counts are correct at all), is that after a cull roos are moving in from surrounding areas. If this is true, then having a cull in the ACT is completely pointless, like teaspooning water out of a dam and expecting the water level to go down where you are removing the water. To stop this happening, you would need to fence off the culled areas so no new roos can move in.

IP

Or, knowing the likely rate of re-invasion, keeping numbers low during the winter-spring protects the carrying capacity of reserve when feed is low. The kangaroo population then re-expands into the reserves from surrounding areas when the population increases, typically after better rainfall event. Kangaroo meta-population stable over time.

Complex systems with diverse drivers defy linear rationalising.
http://theconversation.com/common-sense-wont-help-you-understand-climate-11805

IrishPete 8:04 pm 19 Jun 13

From today’s Canberra Times letters page – says it all really. Either the CT is completely misreporting the “science”, or the “science” is really shoddy.

“Breeding misinformation

In the article ‘Roos bounce back after cull’ (June 15, p6) it is stated that, in 2008, 180 kangaroos were counted and 140 killed at Callum Brae. This would have left about 40 kangaroos with roughly equal numbers of males and females. Next year, the article states, there were 290 kangaroos in the reserve. This means that about 20 breeding females must have produced something like 12 or 13 joeys each! By 2011, according to figures in the article, the fantastic breeding rate had dropped to about seven joeys per female.

For those who might believe these figures, breeding females (and these are only a proportion of the females in a mob) produce only one joey per year and these don’t all survive.

It is this sort of ”evidence” that makes the necessity for the killing questionable.”

The obvious answer to me (if the counts are correct at all), is that after a cull roos are moving in from surrounding areas. If this is true, then having a cull in the ACT is completely pointless, like teaspooning water out of a dam and expecting the water level to go down where you are removing the water. To stop this happening, you would need to fence off the culled areas so no new roos can move in.

Of course the original numbers for the cull, leaked to the CT, proposed culling down to a population of 1 (yes, one) in some areas. You have to wonder what fool came up with that idea – not only cruel to the surviving roo, but it also can’t breed. (Or was it a tacit admission that roos are mobile?)

IP

MrBigEars 11:09 pm 18 Jun 13

Watson said :

But if there wouldn’t have been paddocks in the first place, there wouldn’t have been as many roos to displace by building fugly developments, surely? And once the developments are there, any lawn areas will be readily colonised by roo mobs at sunset too.

I don’t think you are going to see too much front lawn in Throsby. (Not a euphemism)

Watson 3:26 pm 18 Jun 13

MrBigEars said :

fernandof said :

However, the part that is missing is weather the existing policy is indeed the best approach to achieve those goals (“would 200k per year be more effective in protecting plants and critters by being spent on weed control, rabbit control, getting rid of sheep or issuing free condoms?”, comment #15).

It is in the context of that area I’m asking your help to find information suggesting that the current policy is indeed the most efficient one. In the 20ish minutes I’ve searched for it, I couldn’t find pertinent information.

It’s really not an either/or approach. Sandell 2002 found that after calcivirus reduced rabbit numbers, grassland increased only in areas with no stock and low kangaroo density. So it would appear that if you chucked all the money at rabbit management and ignored kangaroo density, you wouldn’t get the increase grassland biomass that you would by maintaining low kangaroo density with low rabbit numbers. (I direct your attention to section 3.4 in the Situation Analysis Report, linked above)

The other problem is the size of reserves in the ACT. There’s a lot of small reserves with a low area/edge ratio. (Concept:Edge effect) The ability of PCL to control rabbits on public/reserve land is limited when rabbits (and weeds) can readily recolonise from adjoining and nearby areas. Reducing Total Grazing Impact via reducing the density of large herbivores requires less ongoing management input.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m against inappropriate development as the next pinko tree hugger, and I believe the situation we find ourselves in is largely due ~150 years of bad practice. It’s just that when the anti-cull mob go back to Victoria, we won’t hear much from them about the god-awful developments and PCL will still be stuck with managing and restoring EPBC listed ecosystems with few options and even less say over which developer gets to convert paddock and bush into fugly houses.

(Sandell 2002 Implications of rabbit haemorrhagic disease for the short-term recovery of semi-arid woodland communities in north-west Victoria. Wildlife Research 29, 591–59.)

(Also, Google Scholar)

But if there wouldn’t have been paddocks in the first place, there wouldn’t have been as many roos to displace by building fugly developments, surely? And once the developments are there, any lawn areas will be readily colonised by roo mobs at sunset too.

TAMSMediaRoom 1:56 pm 18 Jun 13

If you are looking for government information about kangaroo management the following link may be of assistance: http://www.tams.act.gov.au/parks-recreation/plants_and_animals/urban_wildlife/local_wildlife/kangaroos

MrBigEars 11:50 am 18 Jun 13

fernandof said :

However, the part that is missing is weather the existing policy is indeed the best approach to achieve those goals (“would 200k per year be more effective in protecting plants and critters by being spent on weed control, rabbit control, getting rid of sheep or issuing free condoms?”, comment #15).

It is in the context of that area I’m asking your help to find information suggesting that the current policy is indeed the most efficient one. In the 20ish minutes I’ve searched for it, I couldn’t find pertinent information.

It’s really not an either/or approach. Sandell 2002 found that after calcivirus reduced rabbit numbers, grassland increased only in areas with no stock and low kangaroo density. So it would appear that if you chucked all the money at rabbit management and ignored kangaroo density, you wouldn’t get the increase grassland biomass that you would by maintaining low kangaroo density with low rabbit numbers. (I direct your attention to section 3.4 in the Situation Analysis Report, linked above)

The other problem is the size of reserves in the ACT. There’s a lot of small reserves with a low area/edge ratio. (Concept:Edge effect) The ability of PCL to control rabbits on public/reserve land is limited when rabbits (and weeds) can readily recolonise from adjoining and nearby areas. Reducing Total Grazing Impact via reducing the density of large herbivores requires less ongoing management input.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m against inappropriate development as the next pinko tree hugger, and I believe the situation we find ourselves in is largely due ~150 years of bad practice. It’s just that when the anti-cull mob go back to Victoria, we won’t hear much from them about the god-awful developments and PCL will still be stuck with managing and restoring EPBC listed ecosystems with few options and even less say over which developer gets to convert paddock and bush into fugly houses.

(Sandell 2002 Implications of rabbit haemorrhagic disease for the short-term recovery of semi-arid woodland communities in north-west Victoria. Wildlife Research 29, 591–59.)

(Also, Google Scholar)

fernandof 9:36 am 18 Jun 13

Diggety, RadioVK, I think there’s a principal misunderstanding here around the topic we’re discussing.

Here’s my understanding of the topic:
1. The Government had developed a Kangaroo Management Plan to:
a. maintain populations of kangaroos as a significant part of the fauna of the ‘bush capital’; and
b. manage and minimise the environmental, economic and social impacts of those kangaroo populations on other biota, grassy ecosystems, ACT residents and visitors.
2. I am not challenging these goals, but I am questioning the effectiveness of the method proposed in the policy to achieve these goals, in particular the part focusing on impacting the grassy ecosystems.

There is valid science supporting the policy which talks about Kangaroo culling as a way to achieve the goals. Much of the science is indeed found in the policy itself as references. No problems there.

However, the part that is missing is weather the existing policy is indeed the best approach to achieve those goals (“would 200k per year be more effective in protecting plants and critters by being spent on weed control, rabbit control, getting rid of sheep or issuing free condoms?”, comment #15).

It is in the context of that area I’m asking your help to find information suggesting that the current policy is indeed the most efficient one. In the 20ish minutes I’ve searched for it, I couldn’t find pertinent information.

One last note before you respond: I have to confess that I haven’t read all the references in the policy, nor have I read all the articles in the site provided by RadioVK. This is not my area of expertise and I don’t have years of available time to go through all the information and properly analyse it. I am happy however to read summaries and comparison of effectiveness of various methods which, if presented properly, should be more than sufficient to allow me to come up to my own conclusions.

IrishPete 3:06 am 18 Jun 13

RadioVK said :

RadioVK said :

Correction, It was ANU, not UNSW.

http://www.mfgowoodlandexperiment.org.au/index.html

It took me about 30 seconds to find this through Google. If you’re really interested in answers, it’s not really a lot of effort to find them.

Thanks, I was vaguely aware of the Mulligans Flat experiment (it got a bit of publicity last year, I think, when someone cut fences?). I would have thought it was too early for it to have produced any research findings. And funnily enough, when I check that website, it is too early.

There is an interesting reference to a 2008 Honours research project on counting roos in the ACT.

IP

RadioVK 5:44 pm 17 Jun 13

fernandof said :

Diggety said :

Best get back to us if/when you’ve read the science.

I think that IrishPete made it abundantly clear that this research is not easily found, rightfully casting a doubting shadow on it’s existence. How about you point him (and myself, I’m also interested in reading the science supporting the policy before making up my mind) to where the scientific publications can be found?

This obviously also goes to RadioVK and anyone else in the know – if you have the info, please share with us.

I wasn’t trying to suggest that I had inside knowledge or anything. I was only pointing out to Irish Pete and others that I had first hand experience that there was indeed good research being done in at least a few of Canberra’s nature reserves.

RadioVK said :

Correction, It was ANU, not UNSW.

http://www.mfgowoodlandexperiment.org.au/index.html

It took me about 30 seconds to find this through Google. If you’re really interested in answers, it’s not really a lot of effort to find them.

Diggety 3:44 pm 17 Jun 13

fernandof said :

Diggety said :

Best get back to us if/when you’ve read the science.

I think that IrishPete made it abundantly clear that this research is not easily found, rightfully casting a doubting shadow on it’s existence. How about you point him (and myself, I’m also interested in reading the science supporting the policy before making up my mind) to where the scientific publications can be found?

This obviously also goes to RadioVK and anyone else in the know – if you have the info, please share with us.

The problem is not how easily the research is found, because the research is easily found with hundreds of scientific references on page 164.

If you have a problem accessing those journal articles, get help (buy a subscription, ask a librarian, email the articles’ authors, etc, etc). But if you were to claim that the science is dubious because you cannot access it, you would have to give the same label to almost all peer-reviewed science in the modern era.

Like I said – to claim the science is dubious, you need to have at least read (and understood) it.

fernandof 2:45 pm 17 Jun 13

Diggety said :

Best get back to us if/when you’ve read the science.

I think that IrishPete made it abundantly clear that this research is not easily found, rightfully casting a doubting shadow on it’s existence. How about you point him (and myself, I’m also interested in reading the science supporting the policy before making up my mind) to where the scientific publications can be found?

This obviously also goes to RadioVK and anyone else in the know – if you have the info, please share with us.

Diggety 2:12 pm 17 Jun 13

IrishPete said :

Science relies on the null hypothesis. In fact it is for the proponents of the cull to prove it is necessary. Given the absence of any science on the ACT Government’s relevant websites, there is an arguable case that they haven’t done so. It doesn’t matter who is doing research, if it is not being published (and publishing in inaccessible academic journals in a few years doesn’t cut the mustard when the issue is current public policy, not the future academic careers of the researchers).

As for why the ACT Government would go ahead with a cull if the science didn’t support it, this a) shows a touchingly naive global trust in government and b) I would refer you to such initiatives as amateur hunting in National Parks in NSW. Shane Rattenbury may be the relevant ACT Minister but he is only one of 9 government MPs.

IP

Best get back to us if/when you’ve read the science.

IrishPete 8:10 am 17 Jun 13

Science relies on the null hypothesis. In fact it is for the proponents of the cull to prove it is necessary. Given the absence of any science on the ACT Government’s relevant websites, there is an arguable case that they haven’t done so. It doesn’t matter who is doing research, if it is not being published (and publishing in inaccessible academic journals in a few years doesn’t cut the mustard when the issue is current public policy, not the future academic careers of the researchers).

As for why the ACT Government would go ahead with a cull if the science didn’t support it, this a) shows a touchingly naive global trust in government and b) I would refer you to such initiatives as amateur hunting in National Parks in NSW. Shane Rattenbury may be the relevant ACT Minister but he is only one of 9 government MPs.

IP

Mr Evil 4:36 pm 15 Jun 13

The ACT Government is really reliable with statistics and data – after all, they make them up all the time……

what_the 12:01 pm 15 Jun 13

Opponents of the cull – why do you think the govt actually goes through with the cull despite the protests? It obviously doesn’t score political points and it gets negative media both here and abroad. Why cop the flak unless they thought it absolutely necessary?

RadioVK 12:32 am 15 Jun 13

Correction, It was ANU, not UNSW.

http://www.mfgowoodlandexperiment.org.au/index.html

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 12:28 am 15 Jun 13

IrishPete said :

Another occasion when the comments of other posters make me want to play the man and not the ball, but I shall try to remain strong. I know the difference between policy and research, because I’ve been a producer of both. Diggety critiques me for not mentioning any science (e.g. providing links) but fails to do so his/herself. I have never seen any significant research capacity in the ACT Government, which is why I doubt the ability of the environment and parks directorates to produce good research. Or even commission it.

The Kangaroo Research page on the ACT environment directorate’s website does not include any reports. It describes research being conducted, but does not report the findings. The Kangaroo Management Plan was published in 2010 – do I need to mention the word drought?

As an experienced and expert researcher, I can tell you that research needs to pass the “common sense test” aka face validity. If the research or policy is silent on human population growth, and on the consequent displacement of kangaroos (which are mobile), then it has failed the common sense test. (Sometimes the “common sense test” is invalid, but is it in this case?)

Joe Rivett refers me to a video of the effects of kangaroos and rabbits on Mt Majura. Interestingly the TAMS website describes this as the effect of kangaroos (no mention of rabbits). Which is correct?

TAMS quotes the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment from 2009 (need I mention drought again?) which is kind of like referring to yourself, since that’s another ACT government position:
“There is an urgent need for land management actions to be undertaken to protect the 60% of the Territory’s lowland native grassland sites that are currently in a critical condition or approaching this state. The threatening processes that have caused the demise of the grassland sites include weeds, inappropriate mowing regimes, overgrazing by stock, Eastern Grey Kangaroos and rabbits”.

Roos are just one of a list of causes – I revert again to the position, is this the best way to spend $200,000+?. And the exclusion (again) of human population growth also means this statement is incomplete (note the word “include” – presumably this means “I wasn’t allowed to mention humans)”.

So in summary, I would love to read the relevant research but it appears not to be published. The Kangaroo Management Plan (dated 2010) is not a research document, it is a policy document – an idiot can work out that a document titled “Kangaroo Management Plan” is unlikely to conclude “we don’t need to”.

I have no connection with the ACT Government, nor any of the protest groups. From the tone of some of the other comments, I’d be interested to see if other posters can say the same.

IP

Science, Pete, science.
It is up to you to prove the science is wrong, not the other way around.

RadioVK 12:09 am 15 Jun 13

IrishPete said :

I have never seen any significant research capacity in the ACT Government, which is why I doubt the ability of the environment and parks directorates to produce good research. Or even commission it.

I can tell you from personal experience that there is a number of signifigant research projects being undertaken in the Mulligans flat Woodland Sanctuary, including the introduction of a population of Eastern Bettongs. I just happened to be doing some work in the sanctuary and had the oportunity to see some of the work they were doing first hand.

Granted, the research is being undertaken by a university (UNSW I think), rather than the government. But it is being done with the co-operation of Parks and Wildlife.

I don’t doubt your assesment of the government’s ability to do their own research, as you sound like you’re speaking from experience, but saying that there is no credible research being done at all is just plain wrong.

I’d also like to follow your example at this point and say that I have nothing to do with the ACT Government, or any protest group.

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