These adorable little tykes are rescues, saved after the recent bushfires. Here's a sobering fact I didn't know before: In some areas in Australia, joeys like these are killed en masse. Kangaroos, as it turns out, are becoming a pest in some areas of Australia because we've killed off a lot of their predators, leading to unchecked population growth. The adults are hunted to save them from starving or prevent damage done by hungry kangaroos entering populated areas where they can be dangerous to people. Any joeys that are orphaned by such culls are legally allowed to be decapitated, shot or clubbed to death. Widlife groups estimate that over 25,000 joeys will be killed this way each year.
So now for the debate. Is this ok? Should the governement be condoning the slaughter of so many kangaroos, especially young ones?
The issue isn't easy to resolve: it's not just a case of the government killing a wonderful creature for no reason, and at the same time it's hard to stomach the idea of clubbing thousands of these adorable and innocent babies to death every year. As much as I'd like to say that it's disgusting and inhumane to kill these amazing animals, it's just not that black and white. The kangaroos are doing very well, espcailly in certain areas, and are becoming pests. Scientists have found that the booming populations are threatening habitats for other, endangeres species by overgrazing them, and causing other environmental damage like soil erosion. Kangaroos are also quickly becoming pests to the human popultions, causing $6 million in damage via motor vehicle accidents and possibly destroying valuable crops. At the same time, data showing damage to farmland and endangered species directly caused by Kangaroos is scarce at best.
There's no doubt, I would say, that the popualtions need to be managed better than they are. But is culling really the best answer? Some have suggested relocation, but cull supporters say that's impracticle because it's expensive and simply will move the problem to somewhere else. Other no-kill options include feeding them to lessen grazing pressures or sterilizing some to cut popultion growth. Even those who are ok with "killing" think we should be better utilizing the dead, creating a commercial industry including their meat and skins, instead of just shooting them and leaving them to be eaten by other animals. What I haven't seen, though I'd be curious as to why, is any plan or idea that includes increasing the populations of their natural predators to help balance out the problem.
Anyhow, what do you guys think? What's the appropriate way to handle kangaroo overpopulation?