Australia’s Nine News reports that the unregulated Australian kangaroo industry involves untrained farmers and landowners slaughtering a reported 90 million—yes, 90 million!—kangaroos over the past two decades. Like harp seals, of which 300,000 are slaughtered per year in Canada, kangaroos often suffer violent prolonged deaths. A common scenario involves shooting the kangaroo mothers, ripping the baby kangaroos (“joeys”) from their pouches, and stomping on the babies’ heads.
Kangaroos are blamed for the degradation of land in Australia. The animals are alleged to damage wheat crops or compete with sheep for grazing land. However, much kangaroo slaughter takes place in the Outback, where no crops are grown. Kangaroo advocates also claim that the real land desecration in Australia comes from hoofed animals like cattle.
Canadian animal rights lawyer Lesli Bisgould says that like the seals, kangaroo hunts “are happening in very remote places and so the only man who knows how the animal died is the man who killed them.”
While Canada’s seal butchering is the largest commercial slaughter of marine-based animals, Australia’s kangaroo industry takes the title for land-based animals.
“We’re both going after our national icons,” said Bidgould, who is in Australia to join animal activists and researchers in a series of talks that draws parallels between the two industries.
Lawyer and kangaroo researcher Keely Boom, who will present research at the lectures, says there’s no formal training in how to kill joeys, and the slaughter is virtually unmonitored.
“For joeys being killed from a blow to the skull, there is risk of an inhumane death,” she said.
Despite Australia and some overseas markets consuming kangaroo meat, it remains a niche industry.
Should Australia end its lawful killing of kangaroos?
Jocelyn Heaney is an English instructor, animal activist and freelance writer for L.A. Review of Books and Warner Bros. Pictures, among others. Her favorite animals are great white sharks, horses and all cats. She is currently at work on a memoir. Email Jocelyn | @JocelynHeaney