STORIES FROM PEOPLE
WHO LIVE WITH KANGAROOS
The letters below communicate the wide support for the industry within academic communities, conservation groups and non-government organisations as well as residents of rural areas who live with kangaroos on a daily basis.
Stephen Faulder, Yass NSW
I live on a farm near Yass in New South Wales Australia, I am the fifth generation of my family to farm this property and my son James will continue when he becomes of age. Over-abundant kangaroos are a serious problem for us. They eat all ground cover, grasses and small native bushes which leads to erosion of soil and extinction of native grasses and small bushes. In a good season the kangaroo population can grow from 8 to 10 per paddock/ field to 50 to 60 per paddock. In a dry time which can go for several years here in Australia the effects of these large numbers are catastrophic to the environment and the sustainability of the farm.
Margaret Molineux, Billabidgee, Gundagai, NSW
Kangaroos are a significant threat to our well being, they cause numerous motor vehicle accidents from which I have personal experience when my 22 year old daughter was killed by the driver having swerved to avoid a kangaroo on the road. Many of us do not like to travel on rural roads at night as kangaroos have no visible eye pigment and they loom from nowhere and jump in unpredictable arcs into car headlights.
It has reached the stage our major highways are littered with kangaroo corpses and there are certain roads such as the Snowy Mountain Highway which are avoided at all costs over the summer as kangaroos cross the road in morning and evening to water.
I do not wish to see kangaroos eliminated but I do regard it as extremely important that kangaroo numbers be controlled.
Graham Brown, Glengrae, Orange, NSW
Over-abundant kangaroos are a serious problem for us. Small groups of up to 8 (family) are not a problem, however my saved pasture/crop for winter feed is quickly decimated but mobs of juveniles between 45-65 in a 20acre paddock. They also damage fences, making biosecurity between neighbours, difficult to maintain.(kangaroos push under fences in preference to jumping, creating holes that sheep just walk through.)
Andrew and Meegan Young, Ulamambri, NSW
Kangaroos are a serious problem for us, we have been controlling these animals for as long as our family has been farming, they compete with our livestock for feed and destroy large areas of crop if left uncontrolled. Not to mention the risks of hitting them when driving at night (my 10 year old niece has lost the sight in one eye from when one came through the windscreen and ended up in the back of the car with her and her two other siblings).
Michael Inwood, Glanmire, NSW
The Kangaroo population fluctuates wildly depending on the prevailing season and species. Numbers can build extremely quickly as females can have three young in her care (one at foot, one in the pouch and one in utero). In a dry season when we have large mobs of several hundred Kangaroos they can quickly decimate our crops and pastures and if not controlled end up starving to death themselves. We not only have immense grazing pressure but also damage to fences and environmental tree plantings to contend with.
Darryl Bartelen, "Krui Plains", Moree, NSW
Our family farm near Moree is currently being over run with kangaroos. In my father-in-laws opinion the kangaroo numbers are greatest in his lifetime. As a result of implementing conservative grazing practices we have encouraged an unbelievable growth in kangaroo numbers. These numbers have heavily impacted our grazing capacity. Having just recently scouted a 400 ha native pasture grazing block I was shocked to find little to no grazing value for our cattle because the kangaroos have grazed it off over the past 4 months. Additionally, the kangaroos have impacted our grain production area. Overall we have lost approximately 25 ha of crop. It doesn’t sound like much but when the input costs are $350/ha and unrealised income of $1200/ha the numbers add up quickly. At $1550/ha over 25ha we will miss out on $25,000 this year alone. Long term we probably miss out on $15,000 per annum on cropping alone. A rough estimate on lost grazing income is in the realm of $10,000 per annum. Our fourth generation and soon to be fifth generation farm pride ourselves on having an affinity for our flora and fauna. We are happy to co-exist with kangaroos but when that relationship gets heavily skewed with a negative outcome we develop serious concerns.
Grant Molloy, “Dairy Park”, Mandurama, NSW
I live on a farm near Cowra in NSW Australia, I am on the family property which has been held for the last 185 years. We have two boys both interested in coming back on to the farm. As a child growing up here we very rarely saw a kangaroo and encouraged the increase of numbers. We now have in excess of 400 kangaroos on 450ha. They have become a serious problem for us, particularly when the season becomes dry. We decrease our domestic livestock in these dry times to maintain ground cover, helps stop land degradation, unfortunately the kangaroos just come in and strip the ground bare. Not good! Not all that encouraging for the next generation either.
Elizabeth Eassie, "Tara", Garah, NSW
Our farm has been in my family since 1902 and my son now 35 is taking the over the running of the from my husband and myself.
We look upon our role on the farm as custodians of the land, flora and fauna for future generations – including the need for a sustainable kangaroo meat industry.
Kangaroos are all part of this ecosystem and there needs to be a market for their meat so that the numbers are controlled and that farming can be continued into the future in a profitable sustainable manner.
The cropping country has provided a very “comfortable” environment for kangaroo breeding in good and drought times. Their numbers have significantly increased on my farm over the past 10 years. 10% to 15% of our country would be severely affected by kangaroo damage, that combined with low rainfall and drought conditions has significantly affect the income produced off this farm.
Kate Butler, “Myall Park”, Croppa Creek NSW
I live on a farm near Croppa Creek, NSW, Australia. My husband and I have been farming here for the past 5 years with the help of our teenage children. Over-abundant kangaroos are a serious problem for us at the moment because we are actually having a good year. It’s the first exciting season we have experienced but also a double edged sword – kangaroos breed profusely during good seasons and they are out of control on our property and the district in general causing widespread crop damage. The numbers are such that the roads are literally littered with dead kangaroos. We are feeling under assault and that our opportunity for a successful year is being threatened with the huge numbers of kangaroos decimating crops.
Angela Tansell, Koralta Station, Little Topar, NSW
I live on a Pastoral property near Broken Hill in NSW Australia, I purchased this property in 2011. When I took over the place was half covered in fresh water lakes from the very good rain falls we had over the past 3 months. Since that time I have watched the kangaroo numbers increase 10 fold. Over-abundant kangaroos are a serious problem for us and also for the kangaroo themselves. When we do work in our paddocks they congregate in large numbers all ending up along one fence and in one corner. They get hooked up in the fence trying to jump it causing damage to themselves, breaking their legs and backs. Let alone the damage they do to the fences. I often find many hung up in fences as I drive around, most of them have died a painful death and some are still alive with birds pecking their eyes out and ants eating them alive and blowflies laying maggots in their flesh. I have to then kill these animals and leave them on the ground to rot. I repair the damage done to the fences only to do it all again in a few days. I am talking about numbers in excess of 50 in front of me at one time. I am running more head of kangaroo on my property at the moment than I am sheep. They are eating themselves and me out of house and home. The sad thing is we are heading for a drought in this area again, as are many parts of Australia still. This copious amount of kangaroo brings this on a lot quicker as they water diminishes and the feed is all gone. It wont be long and these kangaroos will be starving and out of water. The sight of many huge red kangaroos sitting around a dry water hole waiting for water and being to weak to move and having their eyes pecked out by birds as they sit there is a very morbid sight. I have seen this many times over as I have been on the land all of my life. I have also been a professional kangaroo harvester for over 40 years. Kangaroos in Australia are in plague proportions at the moment. These animals are gong to be culled either for a commercial value or just left on the ground to rot. It makes more sense to utilise them as a resource than to just waist them. If the industry is not able to do this with enough profit to make it commercially viable their will be no control over how this cull takes place. Everyone and anyone will be out their killing them. At least 20 are on the highway dead in a 50 mile strip. This is causing damage to motor vehicles and possible harm to people in the accident and even loss of life. Then end result is still a dead kangaroo. I am sure you agree it is much kinder to do this in a controlled manner and humanely as per the very strict guidelines and regulations set by the authorities for the humane culling of kangaroo.
If you care about the humane treatment of many thousands of kangaroos you will support the Australian industry by allowing the trade to continue.
Gordon and Linda Nash, ‘Ulabri’, Wattle Flat, NSW
We live on a farm near Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia. We are the third generation farmers and it has been in the family for the full period of time. The property is 780ha and we run a merino grazing operation. Over-abundant kangaroos are a serious problem for us as they are in nothing short of plague proportions. There are hundreds if not thousands and they are major pest proportions. At the moment the situation is actually rather frightening as we have NEVER seen so many roos here ever! There is a need for controlled culling and it is to ensure that the numbers remain constant otherwise their own health and welfare is in jeopardy.
KD, RA & BD Ingram, Aston Station, Wentworth, NSW
We own and run a family rangeland grazing property of 25000 hectares in far western New South Wales, Australia. This property has been owned and managed by our family for over one hundred years.
We rotationally graze our sheep (and sometimes cattle) to increase and regenerate the biodiversity of our native grasslands. In our paddocks we need to value the diversity of all animals, including kangaroos.
Our seasons vary from boom to bust; and we must be able to balance diversity by managing kangaroos through harvesting. In boom times the kangaroo population explodes. In the dry and drought times excess kangaroos suffer badly.
Tony a’Beckett, Loves Creek, Tumbarumba, NSW
I am a farmer in southern New South Wales in Australia. I have been farming in this area for 40 years and I have never seen so many kangaroos on my farm today as I have ever seen in the past.
Mark and Renee Doyle, Mona Leigh, Ardlethan
Why are kangaroos not viewed like any other industry, if it can be done sustainbly why should it be viewed any differently from goats, sheep or cattle. Or is it because it is native and our national emblem. Kangaroo numbers are out of control. The commercial kangaroo harvest is the main tool available to control kangaroo numbers. But it relies on markets to drive the level of harvest.
Joan Limon, "Sunnybrook", Tarago, NSW
I live on a farm near Tarago, NSW Australia, which has been in our family since 1947. When my husband, now 66, was growing up, it was a rare event to see a kangaroo. Perhaps one a year was seen. I came to live here 35 years ago and it was still rare to see a roo. It is only in the last 15 years that the population has exploded. Now mobs of up to 50 are regularly seen on our 1600 acre property. We are sheep and beef cattle producers who grow crops to feed our livestock. The roos make good use of these crops. We have suffered many severe droughts since the early 1990’s and having these extra mouths to feed makes life very difficult. We have to buy in feed to keep our animals alive which is very expensive. Without the kangaroos the pastures would hold on a lot longer in dry times.
Murdo Cadell, Merrigula, Tambar Springs, NSW
I run a mixed farming operation near Coonabarabran in NSW. Our family has been here since 1870 and the next generation is keen to continue. We are however experiencing unprecedented pressure from huge numbers of kangaroos which cannot be considered as a normal population.
I myself have been on the farm for 55 years and regard the current kangaroo numbers as excessive to the extreme.
Commercial culling is the only tool we have to control the build-up in good seasons thus preventing an environmental disaster when the season turns dry. It is a quick and humane method and prevents the inevitable starvation of large numbers of kangaroos when things turn bad.
I would never want to see the kangaroo disappear from our area but it is quite obvious that we need to maintain some control measures.
Andrew McKibbin, Kildrummie Pastoral, Rockley, NSW
I live on a farm near Bathurst New South Wales Australia, my family has been on this 2100 acre property since the mid 1930s and has a large area of forest fronting it on one boundary. It produces beef and lamb for the Australian Market and for export. The property has been at the forefront of environmental farming planting over 18,000 trees and using recycled green waste as fertiliser. Over-abundant kangaroos are creating major issues with us in trying to restore areas of trees. Many of the areas planted for trees include shelter belts for our lambing ewes in winter. The kangaroos knock down the trees in fenced off areas and then eat the young trees to the ground. Similarly the kangaroos burrow under the fences leaving large holes for sheep to escape and for foxes and wild pigs to enter. In the mid 1970s through to the 1990s I recall that we used to have 30 to 40 kangaroos on the property . We now have up to 300 at any time which places increasing stress on the pastures. We like having some kangaroos; the issue is the number that we now have has multiplied with improved pastures and the tree establishment and due to surrounding forest areas. The issue becomes particularly difficult in dry times with the numbers competing for grass and causing more destruction to trees.
Helen Lewis, Picots Farm, Warwick , QLD
My family & I live on a 3000 acre beef property 2 hrs west of Brisbane, outside Warwick Qld. We manage with holistic planned grazing and when we do our grazing chart to ensure we have adequate feed for our herd, we have to factor in 200 kangaroos, which converts to 50 standard animal units , as that is how much grass each kangaroo consumes- this means we could be running 50 more head on our property. The kangaroo population certainly impacts on our business potential.
As kangaroos are free roaming they constantly overgraze plants in our pasture as they are able to come back onto the green pick, this causes the more desirable species to be eaten out which again impacts on our operation. As we are managing holistically we are trying to ensure we minimise overgrazing by providing adequate recovery period for our grass plants, however the kangaroo population makes this increasingly difficult. Our management is regenerative and diversity is valued- however when it negatively impacts on our business and there is a viable and regulated harvesting business to manage the population, we are supportive. Unlike in America where wolves, bears, coyotes, etc are natural predators for medium sized animals, we have no natural predator for the kangaroo to assist with population control, naturally.
Andrew Landale, Teripta, Holbrook NSW
I live on a farm near Holbrook, in NSW, Australia, I run 5000ac along with my wife, Children and Mother and Father in-law. My father in-law first came to Holbrook in the late 60’s. when he first started farming in this area it was talking point if you saw a mob of Kangaroos. Today I can guarantee anyone visiting the farms that we will see 200 to 300 kangaroos. This number puts a huge strain on our pastures and fences. We are forever replacing fences due to the damage cause by the Kangaroos. We have some paddocks that I can not put sheep in because the roo holes in the fences are just too severe. It is a huge cost to our business.
Phillip Broadhead, Inverary Park, Bungonia, NSW
As a farmer, I respect the Kangaroos ability for survival & breeding capabilities in this harsh environment and do not want to see kangaroos disappear, but we do need to be able to have farm profitably, kangaroos do have a real impact on us.
Sandra Ireson, “Belmont”, Booligal, NSW
No farmer wants to see kangaroos disappear, but we do need to be able to farm profitably, kangaroos do have a real impact on us. There is no way the kangaroo population will disappear we just need them to be culled for their own survival. Putting a value on animal by marketing it into a form of protein makes it a much more important animal species.
Robert McBride, Tolarno, Peppora and Wyoming Stations
The over-abundance of kangaroos causes damage to my property, such as fences and water troughs. I have hit over 1000 kangaroos with my car on the public road to my property, and they pose a serious risk when driving. People have been killed on our public road when a kangaroo has jumped out in front of their vehicle.
Bev and Michael Smith, “Tarnee”, Gurley, NSW
We farm using the latest precision agriculture techniques and are exceedingly conscious of maintaining the sustainability of this valuable land for future food production.
Kangaroos do have a real impact on us. The copious numbers of kangaroos is a severe farm management issue for us, as they can decimate a crop in a season. They forage on and physically damage the crops, consume valuable livestock pasture and spread weed seeds. Due to agriculture’s spread in Australia over the last century, farmers have made feed and water more abundant to run livestock, which allowed kangaroos to spread, build and sustain numbers at higher levels than was naturally achievable. Understanding their breeding cycle is crucial in their management. Their population can quickly rise to prolific numbers in a good season. However, when it becomes dry – which is quite often in Australia – those large numbers are unsustainable with available pasture and they become overstocked, leading many to a gruesome starvation death.
Kent Hotchin, Grazier
Kangaroo have been living in this country for thousands of years and we feel that they will never be extinct as roos numbers exceed by thousands but we do need to control numbers for us to survive in the Primary Production industry.
Not to mention Vehicle Insurance. Roos are one reason that our Insurance Premiums are so high, major damage can be done plus they can cause death by you having a collision with a big roo.
We must cull and if stopped it will be done unlawfully which isn’t good for anyone. In saying that, why not make use of their skins for leather goods and their meat for human consumption.
It easy for people to sit back and say how could we kill our countries emblem and that they are so beautiful, but if you live on this land and see for yourselves the damage the roo can do to our natural land and to the Primary Industry you wouldn’t be so quick to judge.
Harley West, Lyra via Ballandean, QLD
In my role as a Landcare project officer I have had the opportunity over the last seven years to visit many properties and talk to many producers. One of the features of the Australian continent is that we have many species of kangaroo and many landscapes that certain types live in. Rock Wallaby, Pretty Face, Red Kangaroo, Grey Kangaroo to mention a few, some are in danger from habitat loss and yet others are thriving through ready access to water from watering points in grazing operations and abundance of grazing lands. A feature of the kangaroo, is its ability to rapidly increase in numbers after good seasonal rains or floods. Tragically this new abundance is then left to starve and die of thirst as the dry weather returns.
This sad reality makes the commercial kangaroo harvest the main tool which is effective to control kangaroo numbers and like any commercial activity, it relies on markets to give stability, support and consistency. I understand that the Californian market is essential to the kangaroo industry and my concern is that should this market be closed then the industry here will struggle to be viable. While this may, at first glance, be good news for the kangaroo, it will in fact be bad news for the kangaroo.
My impression of the land managers that I have met is that they want the ‘roos to stay but that the population needs to regulated so that the ‘roo, the pastures, the grazing animals and the farmer can all share in the bounty that nature provides.
I ask that you consider favourably the continuation of access to the Californian market.
Rick Howard, Moona Vale Station, via Broken Hill, NSW
I live on a farm near Wilcannia in the outback of Australia. Our family has grazed livestock in the district for over a century, during that time we have seen most of the problems that can impact on an agricultural enterprise. Kangaroo plagues are the result of overbreeding after good seasons and they out compete grazing livestock for feed when the seasons return to their drier norms. This makes it difficult for us to retain sufficient breeding livestock to be a viable business. Prior to settlement, nature returned the balance to the ecosystem by starving the excess numbers to death or perishing them when the surface water dried up. Graziers have had an unexpected effect on the normal boom / bust cycle of kangaroo numbers by establishing thousands of water bores across the area. This unnatural access to permanent water allows huge numbers of roos to survive for much longer than normal, which leads to massive amounts of overgrazing. This in turn desolates large areas leaving plants to have to grow from seed rather than mature normally grazed plants. I could go on to explain all the changes that have occurred in the landscape over the last hundred years or so, but that will not solve the problems we face today in our enterprise. Essentially we have altered the roos natural environment, leading to an unsustainable increase in their numbers. For us to continue those numbers will have to be reduced significantly. This will be done by a number of means, including culling, professional harvesting or the installation of computer controlled domestic stock only accessible watering sites.The latter will return Australia’s roo numbers to pre settlement levels at great cost. A smart person might try to utilise this embarrassment of riches we suffer from for the benefit of feeding our planets growing population. Better still help create a sustainable harvest system that benefits both the people that live here and others with families to feed.
The Wilson family, Yalda Downs Station, Broken Hill, NSW
We run 9,000 breeding sheep and 500 breeding cows and we recently estimated we have more kangaroos than sheep and cattle. One kangaroo can eat and drink the same as one sheep, unfortunately the kangaroo numbers have increased as graziers have improved water supplies. Without sustainable kangaroo management (harvesting kangaroos and supplying long term markets) the future of farming for our children will be threatened.