Let’s get something straight.
When baby seals are bludgeoned to death it’s barbaric, bloodthirsty and cruel. We all agree on that!
But when Australians clobber millions of joeys to death every year it’s … kind and humane.
There’s a big difference anyway. Firstly, those cute fluffy seals have mothers who love them, but those joeys don’t have a mother anymore – she just had her brains blown out.
The world thinks kangaroos are adorable. In fact, so much so, that Tourism Australia stuck one in a cage in a busy Los Angeles street in January.
But to be truthful, kangaroos are not so popular in Australia. There are heaps of them and they eat too much. For starters, they eat all the grass that ‘rightfully’ belongs to cows and sheep. They eat crops. Farmers whose mantra is ‘there are too many kangaroos and they are a pest ‘– hate them!
Secondly, insurance companies hate them. They’re sick to death of paying claims for smashed car windscreens and bent fenders. Every morning Australian highways are littered with hundreds of dead kangaroos. A particularly popular site for corpses is on any highway leading into Canberra.
Hence, kangaroo shooting is a favourite sport for anyone with a gun and a desire to kill something. You see them all the time – 4 wheel drives with a string of lights across the roof. They’re great for lighting up the bush so shooters can blast dozens of roos without too much effort. Kangaroos are nocturnal animals and hence night is the best time to kill them.
Roo shooting is a great national pastime. Bored office workers love to spend their long weekends in the bush blasting them to smithereens. We do however draw the line when some yahoo shoots them with a bow and arrow through the face. See http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/roo-killer-justin-stavropoulos-loses-appeal-against-jail-sentence/story-e6frf7l6-1225840266509 . Now that’s downright barbaric and the killer, Justin Stavropoulos got a whole year in jail.
Still, we have heaps of kangaroos left over and we do have a monopoly on them. So what to do? Until recently the only use for a kangaroo was as pet meat.
These days China makes everything but they can’t breed kangaroos (at least not that I’ve heard). Why don’t we encourage everyone overseas to eat kangaroo meat? Delegations of government officials regularly trawl overseas searching for an interested country to purchase our dead kangaroos.
In the meantime, radio announcers on talk back radio breathlessly extol the virtues of roo meat. Woolworths and Coles now stock kangaroo steaks. The message is out there – it’s very healthy to eat roo meat. It’s Australian to eat roo meat. Furthermore, the more I discuss this matter with people, the more I get the impression that it’s ‘un-Australian not to eat roo meat’ and complaining against it makes one an enemy of Australia.
But maybe not so healthy for the joeys. As we blast the kangaroo into eventual extinction, we are left with a messy problem. Every female kangaroo seems to have a joey in the pouch. It seems unlikely that the shooters only kill male kangaroos. Until they work out a way to promote joey burgers they have to work out what to do with them. Anyway, the government has told kangaroo shooters what to do. They have to yank them out of their mothers’ pouches and clobber them on the head.
According to the RSPCA on http://kb.rspca.org.au/What-happens-to-joeys-when-female-kangaroos-are-shot_76.html the National Codes of Practice (Commercial and Non-commercial) for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies requires that if a shooter kills a female with pouch young, then they must kill the joey. This is usually done by decapitation or a blow to the head (usually on the bumper bars of their 4W drives).
According to the website http://candobetter.org/node/1842 – I quote
In the field this equates to smashing their head against an object such as a towbar or just simply stomping on their skull. It is not only in-pouch joeys that are dependent on their mothers. For about a third of the time you can call a kangaroo a “joey” they have permanently exited the pouch, however they still require milk, protection and guidance from their mother. These little guys are the joeys-at-foot or ex-pouch joeys, they are the ones that stick their heads in their mother’s pouch to obtain milk. This a key stage in the development of a kangaroo that usually lasts 120 – 220 days. The code directs shooters to kill these joeys by a single shot to the head, however these joeys tend to flee in terror when their mothers are shot. As kangaroos do not “adopt” other joeys in the wild their prospects for survival are very poor, most will likely starve to death or be taken by predators. How this can be classified as humane by Samantha Vine, Peter Ampt and Sarah Doornpos is to say the least, puzzling. I shudder to think what would come under the inhumane category, perhaps death by iron maiden?
According to this website, in 2007, 30,000 joeys-at-foot were orphaned by kangaroo shooters.
What a charming business! So when you pick up a roo streak in the supermarket or order it in a restaurant, you might like to remember these statistics.
Some people have a very cynical view on the government’s interest in getting rid of kangaroos. See http://188.8.131.52/search?q=cache:oDkY1hSjcUgJ:www.kangaroolives.com/condemned.htm+farmers+wage+war+on+kangaroos&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au . The website says – I quote –
Unfortunately the bad behaviour of governments, state and local, regarding kangaroos, is increasing. A campaign continues by those with vested interests to declare kangaroos pests – and commodities. Despite global warming, drought and bushfires, they are all working hard to turn even more kangaroos into pet food, hides, scrotum purses, and so on – even as the Australia-wide numbers plummet. From ABC news May 5, 2008: “John Kelly, from the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia, says (new culling in Victoria) ‘would be good for regional employment and crops.” In direct income to the state, it’s worth about $5.5 million,” he said. “In indirect benefits, such as improved agricultural productivity, decreased levels of road accidents, and other such benefits – you add them all up, and you start talking about something approaching $15 million per year.”
We’ve done our darndest to get rid of koalas by chopping down most of their trees to make way for housing settlements, so it’s probably difficult to rustle up enough koalas to turn into koala steaks. But farmers hate wombats and flying foxes too so maybe they could consider selling them in the supermarket next! Of course, shooters would have to whack wombat babies on the heads too, as wombats are marsupials and carry their young in pouches.
One thing’s for sure – when I hear Australians bleating about how cruel the Canadians are for culling all those baby seals, I’ll mention the hundreds of joeys who had their skulls crunched last night.