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Myths & Facts

Also see Viva!'s kangaroo fact sheet (updated for 2015)

Myth - Kangaroos destroy wheat crops
A four year study by CSIRO(Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation) found that 95 per cent of wheat crops are never visited by kangaroos. Yet farmers and the Australian government still refer to kangaroos as pests. "Pests is an emotive word. It conjures up visions of animals destroying crops. I can think of no situations where this is likely to be true for kangaroos." (Dr. Graham Arnold, CSIRO) In fact, commercial killing takes place in the outback where crops are never grown.

Myth - Kangaroos compete with sheep for grazing
A six-year study by Dr Steven McLeod (NSW Agriculture) - the biggest ever undertaken - examined whether red kangaroos affected sheep farming. It found that there was no competition for food between sheep and red kangaroos and that the presence of kangaroos had no negative impact on the number of lambs born to the flock, nor their size.

Myth - Killing kangaroos helps preserve them
The kangaroo massacre destroys the process of natural selection. The repeated targeting of the 'alpha' males, the largest and fittest animals (who provide the industry with the big skins they want), means younger, smaller animals are left to breed, weakening the gene pool. "This has the potential to cause the extinction of a number of species". (Dr Ian Gunn, Animal Gene Storage Resource Centre of Australia.) Australia has the worst wildlife record in the world - six species of kangaroos extinct, four more extinct on the Australian mainland, 17 species endangered or vulnerable.

Myth - The killing is strictly controlled
No one monitors, let alone controls, the killing in the field. Kangaroos are shot at night in the vast outback, far away from public scrutiny. The Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos, which hunters are supposed to adhere to, is a guideline document, not a law, and is not even linked to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. In order to obtain a licence to kill kangaroos commercially, all hunters have to do is read the Code, 'understand' it, and pass a one-day marksmanship course. "Shooters often have a thorough contempt for the law. They commit cruelty on a regular basis." (Dr John Auty, veterinary scientist and former Chief Agronomist).

Myth - Kangaroos are killed to save the environment
Kangaroos are an integral part of Australia's environment. They have evolved to live in harmony with the fragile landscape and often hostile weather conditions. Destruction of the environment comes from 160 million hard-hoofed sheep and cattle.

Myth - Kangaroos are in plague proportions
Kangaroos have never been a plague. They have been wiped out in many regions. In others, their numbers build up in order to withstand the regular droughts which wipe out half the population. Kill quotas for 2009 were 4.1 million, for 2010 4 million and for 2011 3.7 million (the figure has decreased only because the government has had to acknowledge the sheer number of kangaroos who are dying. The population is less than half what it was in 2001 and collapsed by nearly 2 million between 2099 and 2010). The official quota ignores joeys, road deaths, illegal and non-commercial kills. This annual death toll could amount to 10 million - a patently unsustainable figure.

Fact - The kangaroo industry exists in its own right - to make money by slaughtering the animals for their meat and skins.
The meat and leather is promoted and marketed around the world to earn valuable foreign currency. Having built an industry with political clout, self interest will ensure it carries on killing, whatever its impact on kangaroos.