Hundreds of thousands of kangaroos and wallabies are shot in Australia each year by people who don’t have to undertake any kind of competency testing or training, and who are subject to no direct monitoring.
This is because the national Code of Practice for kangaroo shooting applies higher standards to the commercial kangaroo industry than it does to the landholders and recreational shooters killing kangaroos for non-commercial purposes throughout the year.
This extraordinary double standard means many kangaroos are placed at risk by poor practices and lack of control, including being highly stressed, cruelly injured, left orphaned or dying a slow and inhumane death.
While non-commercial shooters are supposed to adhere to licence conditions, there is no means for regulators to monitor compliance or check on the welfare of the animals targeted.
Participation in group ‘shooting parties’ or ‘kangaroo drives’ is also likely to result in inappropriate behaviour and inhumane treatment as a result of peer pressure.
In fact, the lack of policing and enforcement over non-commercial shooting is such that we don’t really know the true extent of cruelty to kangaroos.
What needs to change
The RSPCA would like to see the way in which kangaroos are managed in Australia significantly improved – but for the purpose of this public consultation process, we are particularly concerned about the cruelty associated with non-commercial and recreational kangaroo shooting.
Currently non-commercial shooters don’t have to pass a competency test, and don’t have to undertake mandatory training. There is also no oversight and little incentive to comply with animal welfare standards.
We see this as the greatest immediate risk to the humane treatment of kangaroos.
The commercial kangaroo Code of Practice has been updated. The RSPCA wants this Code extended to apply to non-commercial kangaroo shooting in all states and territories of Australia as well – so at the very least, all shooters are required to be trained and competent and to adhere to a single, consistent national code.
Those who are permitted by the government to shoot kangaroos must be held to higher standards of oversight, training and competency.