One of the great things about RiotACT is every now and then someone actually in the know responds, effectively value adding to a story. Sometimes those comments are so informative they are worth drawing the rest of the community’s attention to, not just those people following the thread the comment was left on. This is such a case.
Below is the full unedited text (with the exception to the adding of a link to the thread and one to the canberraroos.com website) of a comment by Greg Tarlinton, Vice President of Wildcare; the website at the core of the Paul McCartney/VIVA bruharhar. Not only is his comment informative it’s well written and worth reading right to the end.
Comment by Greg Tarlinton — 14 March, 2008 @ 6:51 am
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I just thought it worth addressing some of the comments in this thread. I set up the http://www.canberraroos.com website, not VIVA. VIVA placed a link to the site on their website and some sensationalist news services did the rest, I even saw one story claiming a spat between Peter Garret and Paul McCartney over the issue, I doubt the two have spoken about it.
Some history, this is fact, not hype. In early 2006, Defence commissioned HLA Consulting to prepare a report into kangaroo numbers at the BNTS site and was told that kangaroo numbers were too high and some kangaroos needed to be killed to reduce the population. Defence applied for and was granted a permit to kill the kangaroos in case this was necessary as the ACT has a culling season between the beginning of March and the end of July when the kangaroos can be killed. This became public knowledge and there was an outcry about the proposed killing.
Around the same time, a group of RSPCA employees led by ACT CEO Michael Linke attended the site and decided that the kangaroos were starving and needed to be killed to save them from starvation. They outlined to Defence the possibility of animal welfare charges being brought against them if they did not kill the kangaroos. It was proved this year in the grassland report prepared by Maxine Cooper that the kangaroos are not and never were actually starving.
Defence contacted Wildcare, a NSW based volunteer native wildlife rescue and care group whose area of operation surrounds the ACT to provide a report on humane alternatives to killing the kangaroos.
Wildcare prepared a report for Defence outlining a combination of translocation and reproductive interventions to reduce the kangaroo population to a sustainable level at the site.
The report was leaked to the media by someone in Defence and was subsequently lambasted by the ACT Government and the hastily formed Limestone Plains Group. Both of these, as well as the ACT RSPCA quickly attacked the credibility of the report and the decision by Defence to approach Wildcare to prepare the report.
As a result of this, Defence assembled a panel of independent experts to study the report provided by Wildcare and the expert panel came to the conclusion that a mix of translocation and reproductive intervention was the preferred course of action in this case.
Defence announced that they had accepted the report as the most humane solution to the overpopulation problem and put the process out to tender.
Wildcare did not tender for the project as it was beyond our financial resources as a volunteer group but did offer our expertise in dealing with wild kangaroos as well as a number of release sites from these animals to be translocated to.
In January 2008, Cumberland Ecology was appointed by Defence to carry out the translocation, as well as to euthanase animals that were sick, injured or too old to be successfully translocated, with a brief to leave 100 kangaroos at the site. This 100 includes 60 female kangaroos that are being used in a sterilisation experiment being conducted at the site, as well as 40 male kangaroos.
Cumberland Ecology began to prepare for the translocation project in January 2008 and was in consultation with Wildcare to organise the release sites as well as some volunteers to assist with the translocation.
Inspections of the release sites were underway and I was actually preparing to take some staff from CE to inspect a site on Monday, March 3. On Friday, February 29 we received a call from CE telling us that the translocation had to be stopped as the ACT Government had refused to grant an export license to move these kangaroos out of the ACT and demanding they be killed instead.
This decision was made based on the findings of a panel that decided that translocation was inhumane and it was far more humane to kill the kangaroos. The findings of the panel were based on very dated information, including the 14-year-old ACT Kangaroo management plan which ruled out translocation as being inhumane. This decision was made despite a lot of current data on translocation indicating it is very successful. A recent translocation of 250 kangaroos in Queensland had an over 95% success rate.
These are facts. The only thing stopping this translocation going ahead is the ACT government refusal to grant an export license. The infrastructure currently in place at the site is actually what is required for the translocation. The only difference is that as it stands now, the kangaroos will be killed with an injection of lethabarb once they are sedated rather than moved to pre-prepared sites, treated with long term medication to reduce stress and allowed to continue living. The cost of either process is very similar. The only difference is that as it stands now the result will be a very large hole full of poisoned kangaroos rather than these animals living out their lives in other areas where the landholders are happy to have them.
The only harm to come from translocation in this case is maybe a chief minister with a bruised ego.