Kangaroo Cull Plan Catches Aussie Military on the Hop
CANBERRA -- Australia's military, caught on the hop by public outrage at plans to shoot thousands of kangaroos on its bases in Canberra, is considering moving them in air-conditioned comfort at a cost of over A$3,600 ($3,000) each.
News reports said some of the 3,200 eastern grey kangaroos would be trucked to a village more than an hour away from the capital after protests over plans to employ professional hunters to shoot them.
The Defence Department said in May the kangaroos were causing serious erosion due to over-grazing on two drought-ravaged military bases, including a firing range, and were endangering a species of local lizard and the threatened gold sun moth.
The marsupials, which feature on Australia's coat of arms, moved from the fringes of Canberra into the city centre amid a 10-year drought only partly eased by recent light winter rains.
A secret plan prepared for the department and obtained by the Canberra Times newspaper said thousands of kangaroos would be sterilised at two military sites to control numbers.
Hundreds of others would be sedated with valium and trucked in special air-conditioned vans to the rural village of Braidwood, east of Canberra.
The kangaroos would be herded into a padded pen and sedated, then shot with a paintball gun to mark them as ready for transport. They would be released in a fenced area covered with shadecloth, the report by the Wildcare protection group for the Defence Department said.
At A$3,600 a head, the cost of moving each animal is more than a standard economy class return air ticket from Sydney to London on Qantas, the national carrier which features a kangaroo on its tail.
A Defence Department spokeswoman said no final decision had been made and the department was still considering costs and options.
Local wildlife groups were at odds over whether it was more humane to cull the kangaroos or move them.
"We're going to lose a lot if Defence doesn't act appropriately," University of Canberra scientist David Shorthouse told local media.
Police ordered a halt to the planned cull in May, saying bullets could ricochet and hit protesters who planned to trespass on defence land to save the animals.