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The welfare ethics of the commercial killing of free-ranging kangaroos: An evaluation of the benefits and costs of the industry



The commercial killing of kangaroos provides multiple benefits to society, but also causes both deliberate and unintended harms to kangaroos. The ethics of the kangaroo industry is assessed in terms of whether the assumed benefits justify the welfare costs. An analysis of the stated benefits indicates that killing for damage mitigation is beneficial mainly during drought and not at current levels; that there is a commercial value, although considerably lower than previously estimated, and that demonstrable environmental benefits from commercial killing of kangaroos are lacking; and that the commercial kill may ameliorate the suffering of kangaroos during drought. Welfare practices are very difficult to assess and regulate due to the size and remote nature of the industry. A combination of empirical data on welfare outcomes and inferences drawn from behavioural and reproductive knowledge of the commercially killed species are utilised to assess harm. The welfare costs include deliberate and indirect harm to dependent young (a by-product of the commercial kill), and a number of unintended harms to adult kangaroos, including increased mortality during drought, inhumane killing of a portion of adult kangaroos, and a disruption of social stability and the evolutionary potential of individuals. Furthermore, a substan- tial gap exists between the intended welfare standards of the code of practice governing the kangaroo industry and the welfare outcomes for both dependent young and adult kangaroos. We found that, on balance, the benefits are lower than expected and the welfare costs are likely to be considerably higher than acceptable. More research, particularly at the point of kill, is necessary to verify and assess the extent of harms. A number of improvements are suggested to the code of practice to improve welfare outcomes
© 2014 Universities Federation for Animal Welfare
The Old School, Brewhouse Hill, Wheathampstead,
Hertfordshire AL4 8AN, UK
Animal Welfare 2014, 23: 1-10
ISSN 0962-7286
doi: 10.7120/09627286.23.1.001
The welfare ethics of the commercial killing of free-ranging kangaroos:
an evaluation of the benefits and costs of the industry
D Ben-Ami*, K Boom, L Boronyak, C Townend, D Ramp, D Croftand M Bekoff§
THINKK, The Think Tank for Kangaroos, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney, Level 11, Building 10,
235 Jones St, Ultimo, NSW 2007, Australia
School of the Environment, University of Technology, PO Box 123, Broadway 2007, NSW, Australia
§Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0334, USA
* Contact for correspondence and requests for reprints:
The commercial killing of kangaroos provides multiple benefits to society, but also causes both deliberate and unintended harms to
kangaroos. The ethics of the kangaroo industry is assessed in terms of whether the assumed benefits justify the welfare costs. An
analysis of the stated benefits indicates that killing for damage mitigation is beneficial mainly during drought and not at current levels;
that there is a commercial value, although considerably lower than previously estimated, and that demonstrable environmental benefits
from commercial killing of kangaroos are lacking; and that the commercial kill may ameliorate the suffering of kangaroos during
drought. Welfare practices are very difficult to assess and regulate due to the size and remote nature of the industry. A combination
of empirical data on welfare outcomes and inferences drawn from behavioural and reproductive knowledge of the commercially killed
species are utilised to assess harm. The welfare costs include deliberate and indirect harm to dependent young (a by-product of the
commercial kill), and a number of unintended harms to adult kangaroos, including increased mortality during drought, inhumane killing
of a portion of adult kangaroos, and a disruption of social stability and the evolutionary potential of individuals. Furthermore, a substan-
tial gap exists between the intended welfare standards of the code of practice governing the kangaroo industry and the welfare
outcomes for both dependent young and adult kangaroos. We found that, on balance, the benefits are lower than expected and the
welfare costs are likely to be considerably higher than acceptable. More research, particularly at the point of kill, is necessary to verify
and assess the extent of harms. A number of improvements are suggested to the code of practice to improve welfare outcomes.
Keywords:animal welfare, commercial, ethics, harvest, industry, kangaroo
Considerable interest has arisen regarding the impact of
humans on wild animal welfare (Littin & Mellor 2005;
Bekoff 2010; Fraser 2010) including wildlife considered
pests (Littin 2010; Mathews 2010) or resources (Gill 2000;
Boom & Ben-Ami 2011). High profile examples, such as
white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the US
(Messmer et al 1997) and Canadian harp seals
(Phoca groenlandica) (Daoust et al 2002) illustrate that
community opposition to the killing of wildlife, whether it
is perceived as pest or resource, can be strong. Ethical
frameworks for assessing human impacts on animal welfare
must expand to incorporate a broader range of possible
harms to free-living animals (Fraser & MacRae 2011).
Furthermore, when determining whether a particular human
activity that causes animal suffering is necessary, it has been
argued that both the purpose and means of the activity
should be legitimate (Sankoff & Steven 2009). It is
necessary for there to be some reason for the relevant
activity, and that reason must conform to societal values
(Francione 2000; Weldon 2008). Even if there is a legiti-
mate purpose to cause harm to animals, the suffering
imposed by such activity may not be justified by the means
utilised, particularly if there are less harmful procedures
available at a comparable cost (Sankoff & Steven 2009).
Over the past 30 years in Australia, an annual average of
approximately three million free-ranging kangaroos are
commercially killed and processed annually by the kangaroo
industry (not including young which are collateral deaths).
They are killed in prescribed numbers ostensibly to manage
their impacts on agricultural production, and for meat for
human consumption and pet meat, and for hides and other
products (Lunney 2010; Boom et al 2012). In 1998, the latest
Australian congressional review of the use of wildlife,
including the commercial killing of kangaroos, determined
that although the commercial industry effectively “institu-
tionalised the suffering of kangaroos”, the commercial killing
is necessary due to the impact of kangaroos on farming
income (Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport
Committee 1998). However, accumulating data do not show
Universities Federation for Animal Welfare Science in the Service of Animal Welfare
2 Ben-Ami et al
a correlation between the industry and agricultural damage
mitigation outcomes and, in some quarters, the welfare costs
are perceived to be too high (Boom & Ben-Ami 2011).
The kangaroo industry targets four of the largest species
of kangaroo which are killed on the mainland
(excluding Tasmania): red kangaroo (Macropus rufus),
eastern grey kangaroo (M. giganteus), western grey
kangaroo (M. fuliginosus) and common wallaroo (M.
robustus). Their ranges include many parts of
Australia’s arid and semi-arid sheep rangelands
occupying about 40% of the continent (Grigg 2002). In
Tas man ia, th e c omme rcia l k ill is prim aril y for ski ns and
includes Bennett’s wallaby (M. rufogriseus) and
Tas man ian pad emel on (Thylogale billardierii). Free-
ranging wild kangaroos are shot by licensed shooters
and partially eviscerated in the field. Carcases are then
brought to cold storage containers (chillers) for holding
until they are sent to meat processing plants. Although
management programmes are set by individual states,
the conditions set out in the National Code of Practice
for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos for Commercial
Purposes (the Code) provide the national standards for
kangaroo welfare in the commercial industry
(DSEWPaC 2012) (Table 1).
This paper seeks to evaluate the ethics of the commercial
killing of kangaroos by expanding the traditional view of
animal welfare which looks at the deliberate harm caused to
wild animals to include an assessment of the indirect harm
to wild animals through disruption of natural processes
(Fraser & MacRae 2011).
We achieve the ethical evaluation through a set of inquiries
into the impact of the kangaroo industry on its components.
We utilise a cost-benefit approach to assess the industry’s
impact on kangaroos compared against its purported
benefits for people, livestock, the environment and wildlife
(including kangaroos), and seek to provide a way forward
that acknowledges non-wildlife needs and minimises harm
to wildlife (Sankoff & Steven 2009). Specifically, we ask: i)
what are the benefits derived (for humans, the environment
and kangaroos) from the industry; ii) what is the harm
(welfare cost) for kangaroos; and iii) whether there are
alternative methods that cause less harm to kangaroos.
We d ef in e a ni ma l we lf are ac co rd in g t o th e b ro ad er defi ni ti on
of animal welfare provided by the Australian Animal
Welf ar e St ra te gy, i n wh ic h we lf ar e me an s ho w th e an im al i s
coping with the conditions it is living in and sentience is the
reason why welfare matters (Anon 2011); when the pain and
distress suffered by animals cannot be easily evaluated it is
necessary to “assume that animals experience these in a
manner similar to humans unless there is evidence to the
contrary” (National Health and Medical Research Council
2004); and the impact of social dynamics on the evolutionary
potential of individuals and the persistence of populations
(Storz 1999; East et al 2009), which recognises the longer
lasting effects of human actions on the welfare of wildlife as
opposed to farmed animals (Anon 2010a). Collateral death
caused deliberately or indirectly by the kangaroo industry to
dependent young (which are not utilised as a commercial
product) is also considered a welfare issue.
Benefits arising from the commercial killing of
Damage mitigation on agricultural and pastoral land
Primary motivations for managing kangaroo populations stem
from the historical perceptions of kangaroos and their
perceived impact on farmers’ (crop production) and graziers’
(livestock production) incomes. A series of reports have
attempted to quantify the commercial impact of kangaroos on
farmers and graziers (Young 1984; Gibson & Young 1987;
Sloane Cook and King Pty Ltd 1988; McLeod 2004), reaching
estimates of up to (Australian dollars used throughout) $200
million (M) to graziers (Sloane Cook and King Pty Ltd 1988).
Furthermore, ecologists have traditionally speculated that
kangaroo numbers have increased since European settlement
© 2014 Universities Federation for Animal Welfare
Table 1 Acceptable shooting and euthanasia methods as prescribed by the Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting
of Kangaroos and Wallabies (Sections 2.4 and 5.1 of the Code; DSEWPaC 2012).
Description Acceptable euthanasia method
Small furless pouch young (fits within the
palm of the hand)
Single forceful blow to the base of the skull sufficient to destroy the functional capacity of the
Stunning, immediately followed by decapitation by rapidly severing the head from the body
with a sharp blade
All furred young Single forceful blow to the base of the skull, sufficient to destroy the functional capacity of the
Young-at-foot Single shot to the brain or heart where it can be delivered accurately and in safety using the
firearms and ammunition specified in Part A or B of Schedule 1
Adults A shooter must aim so as to hit the target kangaroo or wallaby in the brain (see Schedule 2)
A shooter must not aim so as to hit the target kangaroo or wallaby in any other part of the
body than that specified in (i) above
Welfare ethics of the kangaroo industry 3
due to the increased availability of watering points (Calaby &
Grigg 1989; Fensham & Fairfax 2008) and land use conver-
sions of forest to pasture (Calaby & Grigg 1989).
In contrast, recent government-commissioned reviews of
the relationship between kangaroos and their environment
concluded that no correlation has been established between
commercial kangaroo killing and pastoral damage mitiga-
tion (see Olsen & Low 2006; Herbert & Elzer 2011).
Furthermore, studies that have shown that competition with
livestock for food typically occurs only during drought
(Edwards et al 1995, 1996; Dawson & Ellis 1996). These
findings have led to a dramatic revision of the cost of
kangaroos to graziers, from a previous $200M to $15.5M
(McLeod 2004). In this latest estimate the total cost of
$44.1M (to graziers and crop farmers) also includes a cost
to crop farmers estimated at $11.9M and fencing damage
across all agricultural sectors estimated at $16.7M. More
recently, artificial watering points in the arid interior of
Australia have been found to have little impact on the distri-
bution and densities of kangaroos (Montague-Drake &
Croft 2004; Croft et al 2007; Fukuda et al 2010; Letnic &
Crowther 2012); Croft (2005) suggests that many artificial
watering points in arid areas where kangaroo densities are
high are located in areas in which water was historically
accessible to kangaroos either above or right below the
ground surface in ephemeral creeks.
The lack of correlation between the commercial kill and
agricultural damage mitigation has led to some state-based
policy changes regarding the management of kangaroos.
Three out of four state kangaroo management programmes
have revised their management aims from the killing of
kangaroos as a pest management strategy to supporting a
sustainable resource industry (Department for Environment
and Heritage 2007; Department of Environment and
Climate Change 2007; Environment and Resource
Management 2007). Although the damage mitigation
benefit to agricultural properties is questionable, and
certainly much less than previously believed, kangaroos are
still considered to be pests to graziers and crop farmers.
Commercial value
According to the Kangaroo Industry Strategic Plan
2005–2010, in 2005 the industry’s estimated worth was
$200M employing some 4,000 people and projected to reach
$270M by 2010 (Kelly 2005). These jobs include primarily
the shooters, and the workers in the meat processing plants.
The industry, however, has not generated consistent returns.
Exports, the key revenue generating sector of the industry,
have fluctuated from $56M in 2003 to $46M the following
year and $77M in 2007 (Foster 2009), and since then export
values have declined to below $30M in 2009 (ABARE
2010). The large fluctuations are precipitated by both
climatic conditions and relations with trade partners.
Rainfall is a key determinant of kangaroo populations
(Caughley et al 1987) and too much of it can prevent
shooters from reaching kangaroos in the field; in recent
years Australia has been through recent extreme weather
events of both El Nino during 2009–2010 (BOM 2012a)
and La Nina 2010–2011 (BOM 2012b). In addition, the
export market was dependent on one nation, Russia, for
74% of revenue (Foster 2009). At the time of writing,
Russia has ceased kangaroo meat imports due to concerns
over hygiene (Anon 2010b; pp 20–22).
Environmental restoration
Land clearance and livestock grazing in Australia have caused
land degradation (Landsberg et al 1999) and biodiversity loss
(Fisher et al 2003). In addition, concerns about climate change
have highlighted the high levels of greenhouse gas emissions
produced by Australia’s numerous livestock (Garnaut 2007).
Kangaroos have a much lighter impact on the environment
than sheep and emit about a quarter of the methane. Therefore,
at least partial replacement of livestock with free-ranging
kangaroos on pastoral properties by graziers is being
promoted as a mitigation mechanism for these environmental
issues in Australia (Grigg 1989; Ampt & Baumber 2006;
Wilson & Edwards 2008; Cooney et al 2009).
However, the fact that kangaroos are shot at night, the lack of
management rights over kangaroos and the low returns from
kangaroos have been prohibitive to the involvement of graziers
(Grigg 2002; Chapman 2003; Cooney et al 2009). Currently,
most kangaroos are shot by licensed independent shooters and
do not replace sheep in the landscape or provide incentive for
improving land management on the farm; as such, the graziers’
only perceived benefit is that of the removal of pests (Grigg
2002; Chapman 2003; Thomsen & Davies 2007; Baumber
et al 2009). Furthermore, some ecologists question the feasi-
bility and environmental merits of partial sheep replacement
(McCallum 1995; Croft 2000; Russel 2008; Ben-Ami et al
2010). Nevertheless, if partial replacement or more direct
benefits to graziers do not occur then commercial killing will
continue to occur alongside the traditional livestock industry
without this putative environmental gain, and with the risks
associated with exploiting native wildlife.
Improved welfare outcomes
Literature that documents welfare issues in the kangaroo
industry is varied in its assessment of the severity and type of
welfare concerns, to the point of being contradictory. At one
end of the spectrum there are assertions that not managing
kangaroo populations has negative welfare ramifications. A
drought-induced increase in grazing pressure on the range-
lands can cause resident herbivores to become nutritionally
deprived (Grigg 1997). However, extreme climatic condi-
tions are natural drivers of kangaroo populations (Caughley
et al 1985; Dawson 1995), and the necessity of taking lethal
measures to alleviate the distress of free-ranging wildlife in
response to natural environmental conditions is scientifically
and ethically questionable (Bekoff 2010). Grigg (2002) also
argues that kangaroos might impact on the welfare of other
fauna dependent on the same habitats. Furthermore, relative
to other domesticated animals that are part of Australia’s
enclosed and industrialised farming systems or live exports of
farmed livestock for slaughter, it has been argued that
kangaroos experience the welfare benefits of being free-
ranging throughout their life, ideally with death being instan-
taneous from a shot to the brain (Grigg 2002).
Animal Welfare 2014, 23: 1-10
doi: 10.7120/09627286.23.1.001
4 Ben-Ami et al
Harm caused by the commercial killing of
kangaroos: deliberate harm
Mortality of dependent young
The role of mother-young interactions in the survival of
offspring in domestic and wild mammals is well acknowl-
edged (Bradshaw & Bateson 2000; Nowak et al 2000).
Although there is a common perception in rural communi-
ties that kangaroo young become independent of maternal
care at permanent pouch exit (Croft 2004), physiological
and behavioural studies indicate that this is far from the
case. Rather, the lack of maternal care significantly dimin-
ishes the dependent young’s likelihood of survival and may
cause harm due to starvation and dehydration, as shown by
studies on the role of milk in their diet. Although the relative
proportion of energy supplied by lactation to pasture
declines towards weaning, which is at one year for red
kangaroos when young typically reach 10–12 kg (Sharman
& Pilton 1964), 18 months for the eastern and western grey
kangaroos (Poole 1975) and over 13 months for the
common wallaroo (Dawson 1995), lactational demand on
the mother peaks during the period from permanent pouch
exit to weaning (Munn & Dawson 2003). Moreover, the
reliance on milk needs to increase substantially for young to
retain the same growth rate during drought when pasture
quality decreases (Munn & Dawson 2003).
Age and gender of young-at-foot may play a role in their
survival (Munn & Dawson 2010). High quality pasture may
promote survival of orphaned young (Stuart-Dick &
Higginbottom 1989). However, known metabolic require-
ments (Dawson 1989; Munn & Dawson 2003), vulnerabili-
ties to predation (Banks et al 2000), and low recruitment (ie
survival of young to an age where they contribute to the
kangaroo population as a whole) during drought (Newsome
1977; Shepherd 1987) or even during average rainfall years
(Newsome 1965; Bilton & Croft 2004) suggests that the
proportion of orphaned young-at-foot surviving would be
negligible (Croft 2004). Together, these available data
support the assumption that all dependent young (including
young-at-foot) would likely perish after the loss of their
mother, either through starvation, dehydration, or predation.
Due to a lack of empirical data, the mortality of
dependent young is estimated on the basis of reproductive
and behavioural ecology of kangaroos targeted by the
commercial industry and historical industry records. On
average, 75% of red kangaroo females will have pouch
young at any one time (Bilton & Croft 2001). A ten-year
average from NSW shows that approximately 30% of
commercially killed grey and red kangaroos and 10% of
wallaroos were female (Mathews 2010). Under typical
conditions in north-western NSW, 50% of female red
kangaroos and 60% of eastern and western grey kangaroo
females are likely to have young-at-foot (Witte 2005). A
conservative estimate for female kangaroos with young-
at-foot in a commercially killed population, that precludes
location-specific conditions, is 25% (Witte 2005).
© 2014 Universities Federation for Animal Welfare
Table 2 The estimated number of dependent young that are likely to die as collateral over ten years due to commercial
killing of female kangaroos. The national commercial kill statistics from 2000–2009 (DSEPC 2010) are used to estimate
the number of females and dependent young that are killed, based on the ten-year average reported for NSW for the
same time-period (Mathews 2010).
The number of females killed is variable for reasons of demand and industry-imposed carcase size limits (see Department of Environment
and Natural Resources 2010; Mathews 2010; Department of Environment and Resource Management 2011).
The model assumes that 30% of kangaroos are females, except for wallaroos that are 10% (Mathews 2010).
Young-at-foot: 75% of females have pouch young.
§Pouch young: 25% of females have young-at-foot (Witte 2005).
Year Red kangaroo
(Macropus rufus)
Eastern grey
(M. giganteus)
Western grey
(M. fuliginosus)
(M. robustus)
Total killed FemalesYAFPY§
2000 1,173,242 1,106,208 227,552 238,439 2,745,441 775,945 193,986 543,161
2001 1,364,682 1,438,280 283,332 296,805 3,383,099 955,569 238,892 668,898
2002 1,500,588 1,810,426 330,372 257,140 3,898,526 1,118,130 279,532 782,691
2003 1,121,724 1,758,173 246,672 347,914 3,474,483 972,762 243,190 680,933
2004 988,203 1,466,325 233,496 304,047 2,992,071 836,812 209,202 585,768
2005 1,045,048 1,487,652 257,422 322,222 3,112,344 869,259 217,314 608,481
2006 1,184,554 1,510,250 288,914 305,658 3,289,376 925,681 231,420 647,977
2007 1,124,662 1,344,430 250,593 266,785 2,986,470 842,584 210,646 589,809
2008 804,278 911,815 201,199 275,915 2,193,207 602,779 150,694 421,945
2009 706,894 806,096 171,544 265,580 1,950,114 531,918 132,979 372,343
Decade total 11,013,875 13,639,655 2,491,096 2,880,505 30,025,131 8,431,438 2,107,855 5,902,007
Yearly average 1,101,388 1,363,966 249,110 288,051 3,002,513 843,144 210,786 590,201
Welfare ethics of the kangaroo industry 5
Lactation dependence continues after permanent pouch exit
as the young-at-foot typically suckles every 1.5–2 h
throughout the day from that time until they are weaned
(Russell 1989). On average, some three million kangaroos are
commercially killed annually (Table 2). A projection based on
the above considerations (as there is no formal assessment)
and the national commercial kill statistics (Department of
Sustainability, Environment, Population and Communities
[DSEPC] 2010) for the period 2000–2009 estimates that
approximately 840,000 females, 210,000 young-at-foot and
590,000 pouch young were killed annually (Table 2).
Assuming an equal distribution of pouch-young ages being
killed and that only about half are likely to be sentient,
approximately 500,000 sentient dependent young are affected
each year by the commercial killing of kangaroos.
Killing of pouch young
The Code specifies acceptable killing methods for
dependent young of various ages (Table 1). Any targeted
female kangaroos, including injured animals, must be
“thoroughly examined for pouch young” (the Code,
section 2.3). Pouch young are then to be euthanised by a
forceful blow to the head or decapitation depending on
the age of young (the Code, section 5.1).
Pouch young are thought to become sentient at roughly four
months (Tyndale-Biscoe 2005; Diesch et al 2010), about
half the pouch life of the commercially killed species
(Dawson 1995). RSPCA Australia has questioned the
appropriateness of the methods prescribed in the Code for
killing of pouch young and the level of training and compe-
tency of shooters to perform these methods (RSPCA
Australia 2002). The American Veterinary Medical
Association (AVMA) recommends replacing manually
applied blunt force trauma to the head with other methods,
as much as possible (Anon 2013). Decapitation is consid-
ered acceptable, under the right conditions, although it notes
that electrical activity continues in the brain for some time
following decapitation (Anon 2013). While it has been
recommended that animals need to be sedated or lightly
anaesthetised prior to being decapitated (Reilly 1993), the
significance of the ongoing brain activity for pain percep-
tion is still being discussed (Anon 2013).
The AVMA Panel on Euthanasia also states that:
[p]ersonnel using physical methods of euthanasia [such
as a blow to the head or decapitation] must be well
trained and monitored for each type of physical method
performed to ensure euthanasia is conducted appropri-
ately(Anon 2013).
However, the Code requires no formal training for the
killing of dependent young and these practices are unmoni-
tored in the field.
Inhumane killing of adult kangaroos
The Code states that shooters must aim for the brain (with
the intent of achieving a humane kill). To support the Code,
carcases with body shots are not accepted by processors,
creating a disincentive for shooters to bring in kangaroos
that are not shot in the brain. Moreover, heads are removed
in the field, leaving no trace of shots penetrating the neck
area (which is also partially removed) and the head.
Nonetheless, in an examination of carcases at meat processing
plants, RSPCA Australia found that the overall proportion of
head-shot kangaroos (determined by examination of carcases
that had heads removed, as described below) that were
processed was 95.9% (RSPCA Australia 2002), meaning that
the remaining 4% (or approximately 120,000 of the three
million ten-year average) were shot in the neck or body and
not as required by the Code.
Another study by Animal Liberation NSW, of carcases in
25 chillers between 2005 and 2008, identified that up to 40%
of kangaroos per chiller may have been neck shot (Ben-Ami
2009). The apparently large difference in the RSPCA Australia
and Animal Liberation NSW estimates is due to differences in
sampling methodology. Animal Liberation NSW sampling
was based on whether the head was severed at or below the
atlantal-occipital joint (Ben-Ami 2009), which is where the
skull connects to the neck and therefore the most efficient
severing technique is at this joint where the tissue is soft.
Anywhere else in the neck area the knife will encounter stiff
resistance from the neck bones. RSPCA sampling was based
on bullet entry points in carcases. The argument here is that a
shooter would be unlikely to engage in this difficult cut unless
it was necessary to conceal a neck wound.
Both the RSPCA Australia and Animal Liberation NSW
estimates were compromised by the fact that the samples
were taken of carcases, without the heads, brought to
chillers or meat processors, rather than in the field at the
time of shooting. The true number of kangaroos killed
without a shot to the brain or neck area and left in the field
(because they will not be accepted by processors) is
unknown. Therefore, the combination of the available infor-
mation from the organisations and carcase-handling
practices of shooters suggests that 4% or 120,000 adult
kangaroos (of the average three million adult kangaroos that
are killed annually; Table 2) is a conservative estimate.
Injury to adult kangaroos
The welfare of an injured wild animal will be poor if there is
an injury and worse if there is also suffering. The animal
welfare impacts of any control method depend on the capacity
of the species to suffer, the duration and intensity of pain,
distress or suffering, and the number of animals affected
(Kirkwood et al 1994; Littin & Mellor 2005). An injury will
cause pain, which impacts the welfare of the animal in the
immediate term and may either heal or lead to death. A conser-
vative estimate of the number of animals known to die
following shooting injury to the neck is provided above, and a
further unspecified number of animals are left in the field to
either heal or die from an injury.
The injury may continue to cause direct pain (even if healed)
or may lead to impaired motor functioning of limbs and partic-
ularly the jaw (because the head is targeted). Animals may
also have multiple sensory functions that when impaired can
cause suffering (Gregory 2004). For instance, damage to brain
or other organs involved in vision, hearing, smell or other
sensory processing could be expected to impair their ability to
respond to their environment and to interact socially.
Animal Welfare 2014, 23: 1-10
doi: 10.7120/09627286.23.1.001
6 Ben-Ami et al
The pursuit of kangaroos prior to shooting, where this occurs,
may also cause problems for kangaroos that are shot and
survive or for others in the group. This has been shown for
other animals subject to hunting (eg red deer [Cervus elaphus];
Bradshaw & Bateson 2000). In particular, kangaroos are highly
susceptible to capture myopathy, a condition leading to pain
and distress and which may lead to eventual death within days
or weeks (Shepherd et al 1988). Survivors may suffer long-
term impairment resulting in reduced fitness and reproductive
success (Cole et al 1994). There is no work on the fate of
injured kangaroos, or the wider impacts of the methods used
for commercial killing. Therefore, a rigorous field-based study
at the point of kill to assess shooting practices and the outcome
for kangaroos is essential.
Harm caused by the commercial killing of
kangaroos: indirect harm
Mortality of young-at-foot
Yo u ng - a t -f o o t ar e o f t en n o t k i ll e d b e ca u s e sh o o t er s e i t he r h a v e
difficulty catching them due their flight response (RSPCA
Australia 2002; Croft 2004) and (if they do catch them) may
feel that it is better to let the young-at-foot live (Croft 2004).
RSPCA Australia (2002) recommends that the shooting of
females should cease until the fate of young-at-foot is better
understood (discussed below) and that the only way of avoiding
cruelty to pouch young would be to not commercially kill
females altogether. RSPCA Australia’s recommendations have
not been implemented to date, as stated by McLeod (2010):
There is currently no routine field auditing of compli-
ance with the national Code of Practice for either com-
mercial or non-commercial shooting. Field auditing of
Code of Practice compliance would provide a more
accurate picture of the extent of animal suffering.
The fate of orphaned young-at-foot remains an open
question. The number of dependent young that escape
euthanasia is unknown. The fate of these young also
remains unknown. At present there is simply no reliable
evidence of their fate or the extent to which their wel-
fare is compromised. This issue cannot go on being
ignored and remains, arguably, the highest priority.
Increased mortality during drought
The kangaroo industry has argued that the death of
dependent young arising as a result of commercial killing of
parents is considered to be a surrogate of natural mortality
(Sheehan 2009). In other words, adults would die anyway
from natural causes as would their young; the reduction of
kangaroos therefore frees up resources and improves the
survival and reproductive rates of remaining kangaroos
(Pople et al 2010). However, commercial killing pressures
may have an additive effect to natural mortality, particularly
during drought. The greatest mortality in affected kangaroo
populations, particularly in the early stages of drought, is
likely to include large young (Newsome 1965; Poole 1973)
and juveniles (Shepherd 1987). Further, Shepherd (1987)
noted that western grey kangaroo mothers are likely to
invest in their pouch young (as opposed to red mothers,
which invest in themselves). The commercial killing is
selective for the larger kangaroos of both sexes (Pople 1996,
2006) and long-term statistics for NSW show that 30%
(other than wallaroos) are females (Department of
Environment Water Heritage and Climate Change 2009).
Thus, commercial killing can expose populations to greater
mortality during climatic periods where the risk of popula-
tion decline is already higher.
Social impacts and diminished evolutionary potential
of individuals
Recent evidence suggests that the ‘evolutionary potential’
(development and transferral of genes) of individuals is
likely to be affected by the fitness level and quality of
mothers (East et al 2009). Female kangaroos are generally
most reproductively successful between the ages of
6–15 years (Bilton & Croft 2004). The death of these larger
females not only impacts nutritionally dependent offspring
but may be detrimental to other group members due to a
variety of social interactions and dependencies. Social
learning from the mother is likely to be a key factor to
survivorship into adulthood (Higginbottom & Croft 1999),
particularly as diet preferences and the ability to discrimi-
nate amongst plants are likely to be learnt from the mother
(Provenza 2003). Female kangaroos also invest in training
offspring to discriminate among stimuli used to assess
predation risk (for a review, see Higginbottom & Croft
1999). Females that associate frequently with the same indi-
viduals are able to graze longer because they can afford to
be less vigilant (Carter et al 2009).
Social learning also occurs in male groups. Play-fights often
occur between mixed-age groups to assist training and to
assess potential competitors (Croft & Snaith 1991). Adult
male kangaroos, particularly the more social eastern and
western grey kangaroos, are thought to be important in
maintaining group cohesion (Pople & Grigg 1999). The loss
of larger and older adults from a population through a size-
selective commercial killing (Pople 2004; Pople et al 2010)
may have consequences for the fitness of the remaining
individuals and destabilise social structures, (as already
expressed by Grigg 1997; Croft 2004).
Animal welfare implications
The purpose of the Code of Practice for the Humane
Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies is to:
ensure all persons intending to shoot free-living kanga-
roos or wallabies… undertake the shooting so that the
animal is killed in a way that minimises pain and suffer-
ing (Section 1.1).
It does not override state or territory animal welfare legisla-
tion but seeks to provide technical specifications and proce-
dures, including procedures for the euthanising of injured
kangaroos, pouch young and young-at-foot (Department of
Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and
Communities [DSEWPaC] 2012). As such, it is the key
regulatory instrument for the killing of kangaroos that
relates to animal welfare (Boom & Ben-Ami 2011).
Our analysis suggests that some provisions in the Code
relating to best practice by shooters are not met. First, it is
unlikely that young-at-foot are killed when their mothers
are shot (see above) as required by the Code (Table 1).
© 2014 Universities Federation for Animal Welfare
Welfare ethics of the kangaroo industry 7
Second, there is a strong concern about the fate of mis-shot
adults. As noted above, existing evidence from RSPCA
Australia and Animal Liberation NSW suggests that many
kangaroos are not shot in the brain per the desired welfare
standard in the Code (Table 1), and it is impossible to know
how many mis-shot kangaroos are left in the field.
The mandated methods for pouch young euthanasia have
also been questioned, as discussed above, and there is no
requirement for training in the Code — for either the killing
of adults, or euthanasia of pouch young.
Possible alternatives
Alternative killing mechanisms are not viable for the
kangaroo industry because kangaroos cannot be farmed or
held in fenced enclosures. The cost of fencing for kangaroos
(compared to livestock) are prohibitive and they experience
capture myopathy when stressed (Shepherd 1983). Rather,
we suggest several changes to at least bring the industry’s
welfare practices to the standard already mandated by the
Code: i) amending the Code to clearly provide that
kangaroos must be shot in the brain (rather than requiring
that shots be aimed at the brain); ii) that shooters retain the
heads on carcases so adherence to the Code can be
monitored at processing; iii) that only kangaroos shot in the
brain will be accepted for processing; iv) mandating a male-
only kill would ensure that the welfare of young is not
compromised; and v) adopting adaptive management
concepts, such as using new knowledge to constantly update
guidance and practices (Warburton & Norton 2009).
However, even if these changes were adopted, a significant
welfare concern would remain unresolved, as there will
always remain a proportion of adult animals that are not
shot correctly, left in the field, and suffer.
The ethics of the kangaroo industry
Benefits of the kangaroo industry include income to partic-
ipants in the industry and some cost reduction to graziers
(much less than previously thought). Although there is
thought to be a potential for a positive impact on the envi-
ronment, supporting evidence is lacking. The commercial
kill may also ameliorate the deaths (ease the suffering) of
kangaroos during drought. The costs include deliberate and
indirect harm to dependent young, and a number of unin-
tended harms to adult kangaroos. These include increased
mortality during drought, inhumane killing of a portion of
adult kangaroos, and a disruption of social stability and the
evolutionary potential of individuals.
The benefits derived from the kangaroo industry are
lower than previously thought, and the welfare costs are
higher than expected. Moreover, if the Code establishes
the welfare standard that the industry itself aspires to,
then the substantial gap between the intended and the
actual welfare outcomes for kangaroos in the commer-
cial kill requires better enforcement and improved
policy (suggested above) to mitigate harm.
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© 2014 Universities Federation for Animal Welfare
... However, animal protection costs (which include animal rights and welfare) remain high. Young are difficult to kill without incurring high animal welfare costs (Croft, 2004;Ben-Ami et al., 2014;Sharp and McLeod, 2016). Moreover, clean shots to the head are difficult to achieve and as a result some kangaroos do not experience a painless death (Ben-Ami et al., 2014). ...
... Young are difficult to kill without incurring high animal welfare costs (Croft, 2004;Ben-Ami et al., 2014;Sharp and McLeod, 2016). Moreover, clean shots to the head are difficult to achieve and as a result some kangaroos do not experience a painless death (Ben-Ami et al., 2014). Ultimately, many sentient beings are killed (an animal rights issue) and many not in a painless manner (an animal welfare issue). ...
... The culling of kangaroos takes life and is supposed to have minimal welfare costs (i.e. injury and stress), but this is nearly impossible due to kangaroos being miss-hot and injured, young that are hit on the head (Ben-Ami et al., 2014), and kangaroos in flight that get stressed and injured. Moreover, choosing who will live or die is in itself ethically questionable (Bekoff, 2010). ...
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Abstract Compassionate conservation is an emerging field in conservation that seeks to integrate animal protection and conservation to achieve either improved conservation outcomes, particularly where conservation priorities and humanwildlife conflict, or the same outcomes, but with less pain and suffering for wildlife. In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Eastern Grey Kangaroos (EGKs) are culled to reduce grazing pressure on threatened native grasslands and woodlands. We integrate decision-making criteria about animal protection into planning of wildlife-management to formulate a compassionate conservation management case study. The management criteria include a series of guiding questions: Is management necessary? Will intervention (management of EGKs) achieve the desired conservation outcomes? And, if intervention is necessary, is killing necessary? We found that kangaroos can be managed without culling. The conflict between conservation goals and kangaroo abundance is likely to be accentuated during extended drought. In the short-term, methods for improving rates of habitat recovery can include fencing of threatened grassland communities and reduction of kangaroo density via translocation. Human activity must also be monitored as multiple human-caused biotic and abiotic disturbances are known to have a strong impact on biodiversity of the native grassland habitats. In the medium to longterm, Eastern Grey Kangaroos have the potential for maintaining stable populations, and their herbivory is necessary for grassland function and nutrient cycling. Finally, we suggest that compassionate conservation and adaptive management can work well together as social values shift towards greater emphasis on animal protection.
... Under favorable conditions at Mourachan that began in autumn 2020, the proportion of juveniles gradually increased and peaked at the beginning of summer 2020/2021, where they comprised around 25% of observations. However, despite generally good conditions in the summer of 2020/2021, observations of juveniles declined to around 5% as summer progressed, possibly due to juvenile mortality as they are more vulnerable to higher temperatures and Animals 2022, 12, 256 9 of 15 a lack of moisture in vegetation than adults [61,62]. In previous studies, juveniles and older kangaroos have been shown to be the first to die during droughts [56]. ...
... Lower body condition could also lead to lower birth rates due to the poor fitness of females, while juveniles may have higher mortality rates [52]. These challenges, along with current threats from human activities [61,74], may contribute to further declines in kangaroo populations. From a global perspective, climate change causes new challenges for wildlife conservation. ...
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Extreme climatic events such as droughts and floods are expected to become more intense and severe under climate change, especially in the southern and eastern parts of Australia. We aimed to quantify the relationship between body condition scores (BCS), demography, activity rate, and parasitic infections of eastern grey kangaroos on a large conservation property under different climate extremes by employing camera traps established at artificial water points (AWPs). The survey period included a severe drought, broken by a significant flooding event. Climatic and environmental conditions were documented using remotely sensed indices of moisture availability and vegetation productivity. These conditions were found to affect all health and population parameters measured. BCS, juvenile proportions, and sex ratios were most correlated with 6-month lags in climatic conditions, while the activity rate of kangaroos at AWPs was most correlated with vegetation productivity. Ticks were mostly found on individuals with a poorer BCS, while the concentration of parasitic eggs in feces was higher in autumn than in spring. Our study offers a glimpse into some of the environmental drivers of eastern grey kangaroo populations and their health, information that may become increasingly important in today’s climate. It further emphasizes the importance of this knowledge for wildlife conservation efforts appropriate to managing the impact of climate change alongside other threats.
... Sustainability has traditionally been identified as the sole focus for defending the social license of contentious wildlife use industries (Johnson et al. 2015, Brink et al. 2016, Decker et al. 2017). This approach requires realignment because public concern around animal welfare has equal, if not greater, footing in affecting public perceptions of wildlife use industries, and has the capacity to provoke damaging community backlash and activism for affected industries (Ben-Ami et al. 2014). Crucially, advocates of animal welfare and sustainability often have different philosophies and core values, despite sharing some common ground (Paquet and Darimont 2010). ...
... Activist media material has continued to depict newborn harp seals with white fur as victims of harvesting operations up to the present day (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals 2018) despite their harvesting being made illegal in Canada in 1987 (Daoust et al. 2002). Likewise, images of kangaroo pouch young continue to be presented as victims of commercial harvesting (McIntyre and McIntyre 2017) despite the industry changing to male-only harvest in the past few years (Ben-Ami et al. 2014, Borda 2016. This deliberate or accidental inaccuracy on the part of opponents emphasizes the need for under-siege industries to provide transparent depictions of their contemporary practices to the community to dispel these misconceptions (Jasper and Poulsen 1993). ...
... Kangaroos were initially regarded as a sustainable food source [14], but towards the middle of the 19th century, kangaroos started to become "harvested" in great numbers [15]. Despite the scientific evidence to the contrary, kangaroos are still often perceived to compete with livestock by landholders and are subjected to considerable eradication efforts and a commercial killing industry [16][17][18]. Every year, approximately 3-4 million kangaroos are killed in Australia [19,20]. Consequently, eastern grey kangaroo populations in Queensland and other parts of Australia are disfavoured in agricultural settings but can find respite in conservation reserves. ...
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Dispersal is a key process for population persistence, particularly in fragmented landscapes. Connectivity between habitat fragments can be easily estimated by quantifying gene flow among subpopulations. However, the focus in ecological research has been on endangered species, typically excluding species that are not of current conservation concern. Consequently, our current understanding of the behaviour and persistence of many species is incomplete. A case in point is the eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus), an Australian herbivore that is subjected to considerable harvesting and population control efforts. In this study, we used non-invasive genetic sampling of eastern grey kangaroos within and outside of the Mourachan Conservation Property to assess functional connectivity. In total, we genotyped 232 samples collected from 17 locations at 20 microsatellite loci. The clustering algorithm indicated the presence of two clusters, with some overlap between the groups within and outside of the reserve. This genetic assessment should be repeated in 10–15 years to observe changes in population structure and gene flow over time, monitoring the potential impact of the planned exclusion fencing around the reserve.
... Shot animals can suffer if they are not rendered immediately insensible via shooting or are non-fatally wounded [66]. The shooting of adult wild animals can also lead to orphaning of dependent juvenile animals [67], which can be minimized by deliberately killing juvenile animals as a priority [68]. ...
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Ethical food choices have become an important societal theme in post-industrial countries. Many consumers are particularly interested in the animal welfare implications of the various foods they may choose to consume. However, concepts in animal welfare are rapidly evolving towards consideration of all animals (including wildlife) in contemporary approaches such as “One Welfare”. This approach requires recognition that negative impacts (harms) may be intentional and obvious (e.g., slaughter of livestock) but also include the under-appreciated indirect or unintentional harms that often impact wildlife (e.g., land clearing). This is especially true in the Anthropocene, where impacts on non-human life are almost ubiquitous across all human activities. We applied the “harms” model of animal welfare assessment to several common food production systems and provide a framework for assessing the breadth (not intensity) of harms imposed. We considered all harms caused to wild as well as domestic animals, both direct effects and indirect effects. We described 21 forms of harm and considered how they applied to 16 forms of food production. Our analysis suggests that all food production systems harm animals to some degree and that the majority of these harms affect wildlife, not livestock. We conclude that the food production systems likely to impose the greatest overall breadth of harms to animals are intensive animal agriculture industries (e.g., dairy) that rely on a secondary food production system (e.g., cropping), while harvesting of locally available wild plants, mushrooms or seaweed is likely to impose the least harms. We present this conceptual analysis as a resource for those who want to begin considering the complex animal welfare trade-offs involved in their food choices.
... Long-term studies indicate that grassland recovery, from heavy grazing pressure by kangaroos, can be a slow process, particularly if the grazing pressure from kangaroos is replaced by that of other herbivores, such as rabbits. Although direct reduction of kangaroo numbers is a simple long-term strategy, in some places there can be significant community and professional opposition to the process, and accompanying actions (Ben-Ami et al. 2014;McKinnon et al. 2018). Nonetheless, the four large kangaroo species are the focus of Kangaroo Management Plans, and permits for culling are assessed each year (Department of Parks and Wildlife, Western Australia 2013;Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, South Australia 2017;Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Victoria 2017;Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Queensland 2018). ...
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Since the publication of the “The Ecology of Browsing and Grazing” (Gordon and Prins, The ecology of browsing and grazing. Springer, 2008), a number of researchers have taken the approach outlined in the book to assess the impacts of differences in food and nutrient supply on the ecology of other vertebrate taxa. In line with the slightly altered emphasis of the current book (The Ecology of Browsing and Grazing II), we also asked the authors of the Sections in this Chapter to provide insights into the impacts that these different vertebrate taxa have on the ecosystems in which they exist. As you will see, the depth of research on the ecology and impacts of the different herbivorous vertebrate taxa varies considerably and demonstrates the importance of further research endeavours, on herbivore/plant interactions, across the board.
... Compassionate conservation is a discipline that not only acts to prevent extinctions of populations but also protects individuals from unnecessary harm and death (Ben-Ami et al., 2014;Beckoff, 2015, Wallach et al., 2015). The Near Eastern fire salamander, Salamandra infraimmaculata, is considered an endangered species in Israel (Dolev and Perevolotsky, 2004) and near-threatened regionally (IUCN Red List, 2017). ...
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The Near Eastern fire salamander, Salamandra infraimmaculata, is considered an endangered species in Israel and is near-threatened regionally. For 25 years, our laboratory has sought ethical sampling methods to protect individuals and populations of Salamandra. To “mark” individuals for estimating dispersal and population size, we use non-invasive individual-specific markings from photographs of larvae and adults. We demonstrated through mesocosm experiments (which are less mortality-driven than in nature) that exotic Gambusia affinis have extreme negative mortality effects on Salamandra larvae. From a compassionate conservation aspect, G. affinis should not be killed and placed in habitats where amphibians are not in danger and mosquitoes can be controlled. We identified breeding-site characteristics demonstrating that permanent breeding sites support larger adult populations than temporary breeding sites. For population genetics studies, we take minimal sized tail tips from adults (which have no adverse effects) for microsatellite data. For gene expression studies, rather than sacrifice entire bodies, we demonstrated that by taking only small larval tail tips, we could follow gene expression. We additionally demonstrated that tail tip removal does not affect survival, time to or size at metamorphosis. We documented high road kill rates at a specific breeding site. To prevent potential disease spread, we sterilize boots and sampling gear. We use results for implementing or recommending conservation of individuals and populations – e.g., identifying: movement corridors for breeding site dispersal; roadkill hotspots for under-road tunnels; suitable habitat for pool construction for more effective conservation; utilizing population genetics for recommending management units; information on demography and genetic diversity to identify hotspots for conservation; removal of Gambusia for amphibian protection.
... Although the focus of animal rights and welfare approaches has historically been on captive animals, some attempts have been made recently to engage with wild animals. For example, advocates of Bcompassionate conservation^seek to make concern for individual animals' suffering central to conservation (Aitken 2004;Beausoleil 2014;Bekoff 2013Bekoff , 2014Paquet and Darimont 2010;Ramp and Bekoff 2015), as a way of unifying animal rights/welfare and conservation approaches, which sometimes disagree on the ethics of killing or harming individual animals for a conservation goal (Hargrove 1992b), such as killing Bpest^ (Ben-Ami et al. 2014;Nagy and Johnson 2013;Ramp 2013) or Bsurplus ( Lindburg 1991) animals. Compassionate conservation approaches have created some opportunities for ethnoprimatologists to engage with animal rights/welfare, such as through examining bushmeat hunting of great apes and other primates in equatorial Africa (Bekoff 2013;Rose 2011). ...
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The majority of studies in ethnoprimatology focus on areas of sympatry where humans and nonhuman primates (hereafter, primates) naturally coexist. We argue that much can be gained by extending the field’s scope to incorporate settings where humans manage most aspects of primates’ lives, such as zoos, laboratories, sanctuaries, and rehabilitation centers (hereafter, managed settings). We suggest that the mixed-methods approach of ethnoprimatology, which facilitates examination of both humans’ and primates’ responses to one another, can reveal not only how humans’ ideas about primates shape management strategies, but also how those management strategies affect primates’ lives. Furthermore, we note that a greater focus on managed settings will strengthen links between ethnoprimatology and primate rights/welfare approaches, and will introduce new questions into discussions of ethics in primatology. For example, managed settings raise questions about when it might be justifiable to restrict primates’ freedom for a “greater good,” and the desirability of making primates’ lives more “natural” even if this would decrease their well-being. Finally, we propose that because ethnoprimatology is premised on challenging false dichotomies between categories of field site—specifically, between “natural” and “unnatural” free-ranging populations—it makes sense for ethnoprimatologists to examine settings in which humans exert considerable control over primates’ lives, given that the distinction between “wild” and “captive” is similarly unclear.
This article explores how human and animal agencies shape the socio-ecological lifeworlds of kangaroos as cultural icons, native wildlife, problematic pests, and commercial meat in contemporary Australia. Kangaroos’ resistance to Western, colonial ways of knowing and ordering the world fundamentally challenged the classificatory logic and foundations of early natural science. Kangaroos’ biological and behavioral resistance to domestication and farming – the traditional loci of animal exploitation – speaks to their inherent wildness, at the same time as it reveals their complicated dependence on ecosystems adapted for introduced livestock. Meanwhile, kangaroos’ resistance to government-endorsed population control programs, and the contested logic of (over)abundance that justifies kangaroo culling, both challenges and legitimates human calculations of who and what “counts” as worth conserving or killing. In tandem, the sensorial and symbolic valences of kangaroo flesh, compounded with the growing voices of animal welfare movements, generate visceral and political resistance to kangaroo meat as an unpalatable foodstuff. The article further centers the polysemic valences of kangaroos as a form of resistance to symbolic unity and coherence. Existing as many things at once, kangaroos eschew classification and treatment as any one thing. Instead, their ontology multiplies across the many epistemologies vying to determine kangaroos’ actual being and future becoming. The article concludes by assessing the opportunities and challenges of centering resistance and its diverse epistemic, vitalist, symbolic, and carnal manifestations to understand animal lifeways and deathways amidst entrenched capitalist and colonial regimes, whose reproduction depends on the production of the non-human as “killable.”
Animal welfare is increasingly important in our understanding of how human activity affects wildlife, but the conservation community is still grappling with meaningful terminology when communicating this aspect of their work. One example is the use of the terms 'humane' and 'inhumane'. These terms are used in scientific contexts but also have legal and social definitions. Without reference to a defined technical standard, describing an action or outcome as humane (or inhumane) constrains science communication because: (i) the terms have variable definitions; (ii) they establish a binary (something is either humane or inhumane); and (iii) they imply underlying values reflecting a moral prescription. Invoking the term humane, and especially the strong antithesis inhumane, can infer a normative judgment of how animals ought to be treated (humane) or ought not to be treated (inhumane). The consequences of applying this terminology are not only academic. Publicizing certain practices as humane can create blurred lines around contentious animal welfare questions and, perhaps intentionally, defer scrutiny of actual welfare outcomes. Labeling other practices as inhumane can be used cynically to erode their public support. We suggest that, if this normative language is used in science, it should always be accompanied by a clear, contextual definition of what is meant by humane. Article impact statement: The concept of conservation practices being either humane or inhumane is normative, misleading, and outdated. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Road ecology has developed into a significant branch of ecology with steady growth in the number of refereed journal articles, books, conferences, symposia, and “best practice” guidelines being produced each year. The main objective of this special issue of Ecology and Society is to highlight the need for studies that document the population, community, and ecosystem-level effects of roads and traffic by publishing studies that document these effects. It became apparent when compiling this special issue that there is a paucity of studies that explicitly examined higher order effects of roads and traffic. No papers on landscape function or ecosystem-level effects were submitted, despite being highlighted as a priority for publication. The 17 papers in this issue, from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and USA, all deal to some extent with either population or community-level effects of roads and traffic. Nevertheless, many higher order effects remain unquantified, and must become the focus of future studies because the complexity and interactions among the effects of roads and traffic are large and potentially unexpected. An analysis of these complex interrelations requires systematic research, and it is necessary to further establish collaborative links between ecologists and transportation agencies. Many road agencies have “environmental sustainability” as one of their goals and the only way to achieve such goals is for them to support and foster long-term and credible scientific research. The current situation, with numerous small-scale projects being undertaken independently of each other, cannot provide the information required to quantify and mitigate the negative effects of roads and traffic on higher levels. The future of road ecology research will be best enhanced when multiple road projects in different states or countries are combined and studied as part of integrated, well-replicated research projects.
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This paper traces the post World War Il debate over kangaroo management, and how the various parties have managed the issue to arrive at the current levels of kangaroo harvest, with particular reference to NSW and die transition of policy from culling kangaroos as an agricultural pest to a commercial harvest as the principal driver. Kangaroos have been variously represented in the debate as pests, a commercial resource, an Iconic Australian symbol, and endangered species. In 1958, kangaroos narrowly survived a pastoralists' vote to list them as noxious animals. If it had passed, and been agreed upon by State Cabinet, it would have made it compulsory for landowners to rid their land of these animals because they would then have been noxious species. Over 1964 and 1965, culled kangaroo populations crashed during drought It showed that for kangaroo management to be effective In the long-term the original tenet in the Fauna Protection Act 1948 of kangaroos as pests had to be re-interpreted and, in Allen Strom's words: "kangaroos needed to be managed on a sustained yield basis." Fifty years later the debate is better informed, with a sustainable population management approach, which Includes commercial harvesting. In a statement on the subject In 1983, Neil Shepherd provided the certainty as to what was underpinning the kangaroo management program at that time:"Commercial harvesting Is sanctioned by wildlife authorities to reduce the impact of kangaroos on agriculture. Management for conservation is die primary objective and the harvest industry has no right to exist independent of the conservation program." He also concluded that farming kangaroos was not feasible, and pointed out that they have never been intensively farmed. What was needed by the late 1980s was an effective advocate who could put the material together into a persuasive argument to move the public sentiment from pest management to sustained yield. If it had been attempted 10-20 years earlier, Shepherd observed, it would have been unsuccessful because the science to support the proposition, the research driven by Graeme Caughley from die mid 1970s to 1987, had not been undertaken. An advocate of a change in policy was Gordon Grigg. His proposal, first published in 1987, was to substitute kangaroo harvesting for sheep farming on the sheep rangelands as an answer to both widespread land degradation and sustainable kangaroo management Grigg later gave it the epigrammatic description of "sheep replacement therapy".The modern debate now centres on matters of ethics and animal welfare on the one hand, and conservation management policies on the other.A report in 1998 into the Commercial Utilisation of Australia Native Wild life concluded "that it is a legitimate activity of the Federal Government to support an export industry based on the commercial harvesting of kangaroos, which is being prejudiced overseas by public campaigns based on false information. "Peter Singer, in 2005, took the view that "Those who see kangaroos only as a resource, overlook the ethical aspects of how we are treating other sentient beings. "In their 2006 review of the NSW Kangaroo Management Program, Olsen and Low concluded that shooting remains the most economical, humane and cost-effective way to cull/harvest kangaroos; rainfall is the overriding driver of population density and that die current harvest strategy (15-17%) appears to be achieving its current twin goals of sustainable use of natural resources and die maintenance of viable populations of the four harvested species. Thus the debate continues. However, this history of the debate on the commercial harvesting of kangaroos has revealed that it has been long running, filled with strong arguments and strong players, and that science and policy have had a long struggle to assimilate the needs of the other.The 2007-2011 NSW kangaroo management plan is tided New South Wales Commercial Kangaroo Harvest Management Plan. This bold tide acknowledges the change in management oudook from damage mitigation to sustainable use. The historical record also demonstrates that the current NSW management plan, which is underpinned by an objective to manage a sustainable kangaroo harvest is the outcome of a long and public debate.
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The role of landholders in kangaroo harvesting is an issue that has been revisited often over time as circumstances continue to change within the kangaroo industry, within rural communities and within national and international conservation frameworks. It is again time to assess the state of play. The kangaroo industry has, after more than 30 years of operation, a legitimate claim to being sustainable. But where does it stand in relation to current international thinking on sustainable use and in relation to the broader conservation goals for Australia's rangeland environments? This paper presents strategies for linking the kangaroo harvest with conservation in the sheep rangelands through models that can provide economic returns and a greater management role for landholders in the kangaroo industry. According to the principles of conservation through sustainable use (CSU), when local people receive direct economic returns from the sustainable use of wildlife, they can gain incentives to undertake species and habitat conservation.This is not happening with kangaroo harvesting at present and if it is to be achieved we need improved knowledge of kangaroo grazing dynamics, increased valuing of kangaroo products, pathways for landholders to engage with the industry and a clear will on the part of government agencies responsible for managing the harvest to move beyond the frameworks that have traditionally guided kangaroo management policy in Australia.
The management of kangaroos is one of the most controversial issues in Australian wildlife management today - kangaroos are 'in plague proportions' or 'on the verge of extinction' depending on whom you spoke to last. This book examines the ecology and management of kangaroos and shows how they interact with their own environment and with that shaped by sheep grazing and the wool industry. It presents the results of intensive and detailed studies of feeding behaviour, movement and habitat utilisation, body condition and population dynamics, weather and plant growth. These are then synthesised to produce a clear picture of how kangaroos cope so successfully with the climatic extremes of the arid zone, how they and the sheep jointly affect each other's fortunes, and what the options are for the future management of kangaroos both within the national parks and on the sheep rangelands.
Over the past half a century research has revealed that marsupials – far from being ‘second class’ mammals – have adaptations for particular ways of life quite equal to their placental counterparts. Despite long separate evolution, there are extraordinary similarities in which marsupials have solved the challenges of living in such environments as deserts, alpine snowfields or tropical rainforests. Some can live on grass, some on pollen and others on leaves; some can glide, some can swim and others hop with extraordinary efficiency. In Life of Marsupials, one of the world’s leading experts explores the biology and evolution of this unusual group – with their extraordinary diversity of forms around the world – in Australia, New Guinea and South America. Joint winner of the 2005 Whitley Medal. Included in Choice Magazine's 2006 Outstanding Academic Titles list.
Suffering is a state of mind that is difficult to measure and analyse in human beings and considerably more so in animals. It is related to the environment in which we live and our physical and mental states. Understanding the physiology of suffering in animals is crucial in assessing animal welfare. Written by an expert in applied welfare aspects of physiology, this book is the first to address the physiological aspects of suffering in animals. It explores the different causes of suffering - physical discomfort, thirst and hunger, the responses in the body that lead to suffering and it offers insight into how suffering can be managed. The second book in a major new animal welfare series Draws together information that is scattered across the literature Written for the specialist and non-specialist alike Includes colour pictures This book is part of the UFAW/Wiley-Blackwell Animal Welfare Book Series. This major series of books produced in collaboration between UFAW (The Universities Federation for Animal Welfare), and Wiley-Blackwell provides an authoritative source of information on worldwide developments, current thinking and best practice in the field of animal welfare science and technology. For details of all of the titles in the series see
By use of balanced experiments amenable to analysis of variance we explored the effects of several factors on the accuracy of aerial survey estimates of animal density. Speed, height above ground, transect width, and observers had significant effects, whereas time of day, fatigue of observers, and length of survey were less important. We tested the hypothesis that a regression of observed density on speed, height, and transect width could be extrapolated backward to estimate true density at zero values of these survey variables. The results were generally consistent with this expectation. The uses of this technique are outlined, with examples, in the context of correcting an observed density to an estimate of true density, of calibrating one observer against another, and of comparing the results from aerial surveys flown at different speeds and heights, and with different widths of transect. The field experiments utilized red kangaroos (Megaleia rufa) at unknown densities and domestic sheep at known densities. Laboratory experiments were performed on dots of known density projected onto a screen. Before the model is accepted as generally applicable it must be tested against several other species in a variety of habitats.
At least one-third of the land on earth is used for agricultural production and conflicts with the interests of wildlife are inevitable. These conflicts are likely to escalate as the human population expands and as the scale and intensity of agricultural production increases. This paper argues that the same underlying causes frequently affect both wild animal welfare and conservation. Three key threats are discussed: disease transmission from domestic animals and the interventions used to manage wildlife reservoirs of zoonotic diseases; physical operations such as harvesting and the conversion of wildlife habitat to farmland; and the use of agrochemicals, particularly for pest control. While direct effects, such as accidental poisoning, tend to attract the most public attention, it is argued that indirect effects, such as the reduction in food supplies or the disruption of social structures, are likely to be of greater importance. The suffering of pest animals has traditionally been undervalued. There is a need for broader adoption of integrated, ecologically based strategies which minimise suffering and also minimise the numbers of animals involved by preventing population resurgence. New research is urgently required to compare the effects of alternative, economically viable farming strategies on both wildlife conservation and welfare, possibly within the framework of ecosystem services assessments.