There’s a better way to manage the kangaroo population

  Last updated April 9, 2019 at 5:48 pm


Kangaroo population numbers could, and should, be managed better to improve animal welfare and prevent wastage.


Credit: iStock

Landholders need to turn professional in controlling kangaroo population numbers on their properties and regard the iconic Australian animals as assets rather than pests, suggests new research.

The paper, led by George Wilson from the Australian National University and published in Australian Zoologist, argues millions of kangaroos died and were wasted in 2018 – without good conservation or animal welfare outcomes.

Instead, there are significant benefits to landholders becoming professional kangaroo population control agents to avoid kangaroos becoming overabundant in droughts, say the authors. They also acknowledge that changing the status of kangaroos is a complex undertaking and begins with increasing the dollar value of kangaroos as well as investment in research and development.

More professional culling leads to benefits

Professor Wilson said landholders who wanted to take advantage of the kangaroos on their properties should be trained to become professional population control agents to improve kangaroo welfare, and to achieve better outcomes for the environment and conventional livestock.

“Landholders should take on this professional role and see kangaroos as assets, not pests,” said Wilson.

“It could even lead to fewer methane-producing livestock and more kangaroos producing low-emission meat. Higher value kangaroos would enhance sustainability and bring other benefits to both Indigenous and other landholders on whose properties they occur.”

“Considerable wastage”

Professor Wilson said non-commercial culling was increasing because landholders sought to stop kangaroos from competing with their conventional livestock.

“This form of killing leads to poor animal welfare outcomes and considerable wastage,” he said.

Professor Wilson said governments set harvesting quotas as a proportion of existing populations.

“An alternative would be to set population targets based on total grazing pressure that takes account of densities of other herbivores,” he said.

“It would reverse the situation where landholders are expected to carry an unstated number of animals that has no relationship to the carrying capacity of their properties, seasonal conditions or competing land uses.”

Dr Wilson co-authored the paper with Dr Melanie Edwards from Australian Wildlife Services.


James Wong – Breathing while you hop: How do kangaroos do it?

The nose knows: kangaroo face shape dictated by diet

The birth of the Red Kangaroo (1965)

About the Author

ANU Newsroom
The latest and best news from the Australian National University

Published By

Featured Videos

Space technology predicts droughts several months in advance
ANU Science On Location: Booderee National Park
ANU Science On Location: Ningaloo Reef
A mix of science and sourdough
How does the crested pigeon make their mysterious alarm sound?
Why do magpies swoop?
Critically endangered swift parrot needs your help!
ANU Science On Location: Siding Spring Observatory
ANU Science On Location: Mountain Ash forests
ANU Science On Location: Warramunga Station
Secret life may thrive in warm caves under Antarctica’s glaciers
Scientists help solve mystery of what causes exploding stars
Case Closed: Mystery of How First Animals Appeared on Earth Has Been Solved
Palm cockatoos beat drum like Ringo Starr
Butterfly wings inspire new solar technologies
From window to mirror, on demand
The search for exploding stars
Coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef
Join The Search For Planet 9