Richard Swinton, Clunes
While I agree with Desmond Bellamy’s concerns about animal cruelty, the issue of ‘natural’ cruelty if the kangaroo population explodes has to be remembered. Many people, especially overseas-based uneducated people, think that the cuddly kangaroo is threatened – far from it.
Before we ‘developed’ the inland country areas, kangaroo population was limited by a lack of reachable watering points, so population was kept under control with mobs moving around following rainfall events and fresh grass. The sophisticated birth control processes that exist, with females able to hold an embryo in suspension until seasons become favourable, allowed populations to bounce back quickly after major droughts. This is the challenge of droughts and flooding rains. Is that cruel to let them die in droughts in such a way?
But we created a much bigger problem when we installed watering points to suit our ‘softy’ cattle, and kangaroo numbers were no longer limited by water availability, so their numbers have massively increased and tens of thousands now die in drought because they eat out the grasses. Graziers try to balance stock numbers to suit the feed situation, but it’s impossible to allow for all the overpopulated kangaroos. And consequently many starve – that’s cruelty – a slow horrible death, adult and joey alike. I think culling is less cruel.