Julian Omidi discusses the culling of kangaroos in the Australian city of Canberra.
Whether it stems from global warming or just unpredictable meteorological phenomena, occasionally, climates will become inhospitable in the form of draughts, floods or freezing weather. These changes can – and often do – result in the deaths of various species of animals and the overpopulation of others. When floods of animals overrun their environment because their natural predators have been extinguished, they will starve to death, or spill into human territories. Recently, the flood of kangaroos in the Australian city of Canberra, and opinions differ strongly over how to handle it.
Should the residents cull the kangaroo population? Will this prevent the torturous starvation and physical danger of the animals, or is it a cruel solution, not based on science but on the desire to hunt helpless animals?
Canberra is known for its easy proximity to wild kangaroos. Rather than trek to the outback, tourists can often see a healthy kangaroo population right on the sidewalks. The ‘roos are on residents’ lawns, in parks and golf courses. However, human and kangaroo encounters aren’t always peaceable. Kangaroos can be highly aggressive when frightened, and they have tremendous strength. Citizens have been beaten and scratched by rogue kangaroos, and the kangaroos will occasionally break into people’s homes.
When animals are driven by hunger and thirst from their natural environments and into neighboring cities, they don’t necessarily behave with caution. Many are highly stressed, starving and sick. They will act desperately and aggressively, and are a greater threat than they would be if they were well fed and otherwise healthy. Seeing a kangaroo in your front yard isn’t always charming; it can be quite dangerous.
Territory and Municipal Services minister Shane Rattenbury, backed by Australian National University professor and conservation expert David Lindenmayer, is advocating culling 1,600 kangaroos in order to stave off over-grazing and save the resources for other small mammals. The culling would be achieve by shooting, which, while not 100 percent clean and accurate, is nonetheless the most efficient method for killing wild kangaroos.
Australian animal welfare advocates are rallying against this cull, saying that the shooting of over a thousand kangaroos is a deceptively cruel solution. One reason being that, being marsupials, they carry their young in pouches, which can conceal the offspring from sight. Once the mother is killed, an underdeveloped joey could die shortly after. Also, it is very difficult to shoot a kangaroo cleanly, since it is incredibly fast, and tends to spring up and down at the slightest disturbance.
There are no easy solutions to this problem. It is incredibly difficult for humans to either morally or ethically make decisions best left to nature, so we often, by necessity, defer them in order to offend nobody. Of course, this strategy fails to address the question, which is more humane: Allowing an overpopulation of animals starve, grow sick and die in agony, or indiscriminately kill them by the thousands?
 Neubauer, Ian Lloyd: Animal-Welfare Groups Hopping Mad Over Canberra’s Kangaroo Cull Time Magazine 5/27/2014 http:// time .com/115385/animal-welfare-australia-canberra-kangaroo-cull/