Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 1:23 pm Post subject: New Roo Kill Code Targets Joeys
Shotguns can now be used to kill kangaroo joeys at close range under proposed changes to the Federal Government's kangaroo shooting laws.
The proposal has enraged animal welfare groups, including the late Steve Irwin's Wildlife Protection Association and RSPCA Australia, which had called for a total ban on shotguns in the revised National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies.
The new code also recommends killing pouch joeys by “forcefully swinging” the head against a vehicle tow bar. The previous code did not provide any guidance on dealing with orphaned young at foot joeys aged from nine to 12 months that have left the pouch but still depend on the mother for food.
“These changes are basically saying the Federal Government believes it's OK to blast a defenceless joey to bits with a shotgun. It's disgusting and reveals a mentality that regards our wildlife as worthless and ultimately disposable,” the president of the Wildlife Protection Association, Pat O'Brien, said.
Conservationist and former NSW upper house parliamentarian, Richard Jones, described the new code as “sanctioning the most grotesque cruelty” and warned it would undermine the Rudd Government's efforts to stop Japan's scientific whaling program in Antarctica.
“We can hardly take the high moral ground on animal welfare and whale conservation when the Government is prepared to condone barbaric practices regarding our native wildlife. The Japanese will laugh at us as hypocrites,” Mr Jones said.
A ministerial working group was appointed four years ago to review the code of practice after RSPCA Australia delivered a damning report to the Federal Government on the code's failure to prevent animal cruelty during commercial harvesting of kangaroos, pest control culling and recreational hunting. The RSPCA made 14 recommendations for changes, including a ban on shotguns and on shooting female kangaroos and wallabies with large pouch joeys or dependent young at foot.
“Any reference to the use of shotguns on any macropod should be removed from the code of practice,” the report said.
RSPCA Australia chief scientist, Dr Bidda Jones, said that, despite being a member of the working group reviewing the shooting code, she had been unable to influence its development.
“We are very much a lone voice for animal welfare within the working group, and only hope that during the public comment phase members of the public will pick up on some of these issues,” she said.
The Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts posted the draft code on its website this week, without any public announcement. The deadline for public comment is 6 March, but the department warns submissions will not be considered if they propose options that are “technically unfeasible” or “cannot be reasonably and safely applied in the field by kangaroo shooters”.
The working group has already rejected suggestions that joeys could be transferred to wildlife carers as inappropriate. It also rejected calls for tighter shooting controls as “creating significant compliance issues”.
If whaling is to end, the kangaroo massacre must end too! As long as Australia allows this to continue then the Japanese will continue to kill whales.
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