----------------------

Monday, April 27, 2009

Weekly Dose of Cute - with a debate fueling twist

OK, I know I've done joeys before, but can you blame me? Look at these guys!



source


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?

11 comments:

Rick MacPherson said...

i'm thinking kangaroo satay, pepper kangaroo, coriander-chili kagaroo, grilled loin of kangaroo with fig and onion, thai kangaroo salad, herb and caraway crusted kangaroo steaks on soft olive polenta, and 'roo filets with blueberry sauce...

http://www.kangaroo-industry.asn.au/recipes/recipe_frame.htm

Rick MacPherson said...

but NOT dispatched via clubbing...

Tony Wildish said...

Increasing the natural predators does sound like a reasonable solution, but at the end of the day that still means that kangaroos are killed by some means. Is humane culling better or worse than letting a predator kill them? A clean shot is probably a quicker, less painful death.

Given the ways kangaroos breed, the females essentially being permanently pregnant once adult, I'm not sure there's any way to cull the adults without leaving orphans. A predator probably takes Joeys in preference to adults, I'm guessing, so fewer orphans that way?

By the way, what natural predators do they have?

Christie Lynn said...

Tony - I guess that's a good point. I think, though, if we're gonna kill them we ought to at least make some use of them - Rick's ideas sound tasty.

As for natural predators, it seems like the dingo is one of the only ones we haven't pushed to extinction. There are some invasive ones, like foxes and cats, but the natural ones (like the tasmanian wolf) are all dead. I guess that might be why no one talks about them as a solution...

Boris Legradic said...

Furthermore, the 'roos are often a problem near cities - when I was in Canberra two years ago the buggers were everywhere. There was talk of trying to feed them anti-baby pills, although how you make sure only kangaroos eat them I have no idea.

Increasing numbers of natural predators is not a good idea - do you want packs of dingos running through your town?

I say shoot them all and let God sort them out. Also, Kangaroo is quite tasty, unfortunately it is regarded as low-quality meat by many aussies, so demand is not very high.

WhySharksMatter said...

Rick jokes, but when I was in Australia I tried several of those recipes.

I agree with Tony. If these animals need to be killed in order to keep the populations within carrying capacity, we might as well be the ones doing it. That way, the killing is more humane, and people get to eat.

Rick MacPherson said...

whysharksmatter said, "Rick jokes"

no, i'm serious...

Tony Wildish said...

I can't imagine why Kangaroo meat is considered low quality, I've had it (even here in France!) and it's very tasty. Apparently, farmed kangaroo meat also has a low carbon footprint compared to other red meats, so it would be good if it caught on.

If there are no natural predators left I guess that does rather limit the options. You could introduce kangaroo-specific diseases, perhaps, but hoo boy, I wouldn't want to take responsibility for that!

Boris Legradic said...

Oh, I agree, kangaroo tastes delicious. The reason it is considered 'low quality' by a majority of Australians is purely cultural: In the past it was a poor man's meat - those who could afford it ate beef or at least pork.

As far as introducing a disease goes, Australia has tried this quite a few times, for invasive species like rabbits or cane-toads, but this is always only a short-term solution, until they develop a resistance. Also, since kangaroos are native to Australia, there'd be the danger of the disease jumping to other marsupials.

What they really should do to get the population under control is to find a way to build water throughs that only let sheep drink, and no kangaroos. That's the reason the population has exploded - significantly more watering holes due to sheep farming.

LUCKY said...

Well since I'm a political science major without a back ground in REAL science two ideas popped to mind and both have already been dicussed.

1. Come up with a way to eat the meat. I was thinkning like Micky Dee's serving Kangaroo burgers or something.

or

2. Which I know would have bad consequnces introducing some kind of endangered predator. Like maybe tigers or something like that. It would also help in providing even more toursim to the land down under.

However I feel that there would probably be some bad consequences in doing this. But wasting the animal meat is already pretty bad.

uzza said...

We have a slightly similar situation in the US with alligators, and maybe Bison. Can it make any sense to wipe out the native fauna, and then raise cows for food?