You may have seen the news this week about the Australian government’s plan to cull roughly 400 kangaroos that have been fenced in to an abandoned military base. The slaughter began earlier this week, despite animal rights activists’ efforts to stop it.
One of the “animal welfare” organizations monitoring the cull says that all welfare standards are being met (um, because killing animals is good for their welfare? I’m confused…), and that the government had no other option as relocating the animals would cause them great stress.** Apparently it is less stressful for them to be killed or to watch members of their herds be killed. Yes, that seems logical. Or not.
There are a couple of things that bother me here:
1) One of the articles says that “Scientists point out that eastern gray kangaroos are abundant and destroying the native grassland habitat of threatened species…”*. There was no mention of the fact that humans are also abundant and destroying the native grassland habitat of threatened species as well as destroying other species just for kicks. Now, I’m not saying we should go and cull humans, but to pretend that humans don’t have a much bigger role in habitat destruction than kangaroos is laughable to me.
2) Culling is a short-term fix – a band-aid approach. It doesn’t provide a long-term, sustainable solution to the problem. In fact, just 4 years ago the Aussie government slaughtered over 1,000 kangaroos.*** Are we going to keep doing this every few years? There are alternatives! The Born Free Foundation recommends a contraception program as it pertains to South African elephants. This strategy would seemingly work even better in Australia with the kangaroos considering they are fenced in.
On top of that, I got really irritated when I read this quote from an article in the Sydney Morning Herald: “‘I would support euthanasing the animal liberationists at the same time as the roos on the basis of stupidity,’ said [one area resident].”*** Ah, yes, that is helpful! Thank you for your opinion. The problem I have with this is that I have found that a lot of anti-animal rights people don’t really have arguments to back up their points, so they resort to comments like that. Don’t get me wrong, I will listen to just about anybody make their point, and have a respectful debate about it, but after you say something like “let’s kill all the animal rights activists”, you kind of lose credibility.
Culling these kangaroos seems to me to be taking the easy way out. How many times is the government going to take the easy way out, and how many innocent animals will have to pay for it, before they realize that this won’t make a lasting impact on kangaroo population control?
Photo by Mark Graham/AP
* “Kangaroo culling begins at Australian site”, Associated Press, May 19, 2008. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24706458/
** “Protesters vow action over kangaroo cull”, Associated Press, May 20, 2008. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24727933/
*** “Canberra roo cull plan sparks protests“, The Sydney Morning Herald, May 14, 2008.