Just two of the 23 recommendations handed to the New South Wales government after an inquiry into kangaroo population levels and culling practices have been accepted in full.
Inquiry chair and Greens MP Cate Faehrmann said the response was “dismissive of the serious issues raised” during the three-day inquiry called to understand the wellbeing of the state’s kangaroo population, amid concerns about the scale and regulation of culling.
Leading kangaroo scientists have backed the recent reply as fair, given the inquiry’s limited remit, but said much more work was required to develop cohesive policy for macropod populations.
George Wilson, a leading researcher and ANU science professor said both the inquiry and government kangaroo policy generally left many areas “completely under-addressed” and called for an end to “short-termism”.
“We do not even know if we want more kangaroos or less kangaroos. How can you have a management plan if you can answer that question? ” Wilson said.
Last year inquiry received more than 400 submissions, hearing from experts and the public over three days before handing down a raft of recommendations including greater transparency in licensing and regulation of the industry.
The inquiry also called for the establishment of an independent panel of ecologists to examine the scientific evidence for assumptions used in the state kangaroo management plan.
In its repose, the government agreed to produce and publish “plain English” explanations of its planning and methodology around kangaroo harvesting and consult with and include Indigenous perspectives.
It did not support a number of the recommendations including getting the auditor general to review the kangaroo management plan, the introduction of video monitoring for kangaroo populations, and the collection and publishing of data around joeys orphaned due to culling.
According to 2021 government data, the estimated kangaroo population in management zones in NSW was 10.9 million kangaroos, up from 10.5 million the previous year.
Faehrmann said she was disappointed the government had ignored recommendations for the Natural Resources Commission to have a role in reviewing the methodology used to estimate kangaroo numbers, and for more research into the potential impacts of climate heating on macropod populations.
“For the government to dismiss all of this outright suggests that they are not concerned about the sustainability of their kangaroo management program whatsoever,” she said.
Wilson said there needed to be greater engagement with graziers given the number of kangaroos living and being harvested on privately managed properties.
“[Farmers] have got two mechanisms to manage –they can get a professional kangaroo shooter in or they can fence their properties off. This is really not the way forward – we need to have a good hard look at this, ”he said.
“We need to get all the stakeholders around the table. We all need to discuss what it is we’re trying to achieve, and then set up a pathway to achieving that. ”
Michael Archer, a UNSW biological science professor agreed that the response response was reasonable but that the inquiry and current government management plans needed to take into consideration graziers’ role in population control and habitat management.
“I’d like to see some encouragement from the government to explore issues with the industry about some percentage of the income that’s derived [from kangaroo harvesting] being returned to the grazier in exchange for guaranteeing the maintenance of the habitat, ”he said.
“As soon as that begins to happen then we’re going to see a massive reduction in the amount of land clearance that goes on.”
A NSW government spokesperson said the successful response had been developed by the Department of Planning and Environment.