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Follow up Viva! email to Sainsbury's CEO Mike Coupe

8 June 2017

"Dear Mike

We are aware that Sainsbury’s representatives made the following statement to The Sun newspaper yesterday:

“The wild kangaroo meat is 100 per cent welfare friendly.

“The harvesting of kangaroos in Australia is strictly controlled and codes of practice must be adhered to and monitored at all times.

“Due to vastly increasing numbers of kangaroos in the wild, it is necessary to manage the population to protect the environment.”

As we outlined in the email to you it is incorrect to say that kangaroo ‘harvesting’ is 100% welfare friendly and is monitored at all times – in fact it is not monitored at all. It can’t be as the killing is not in a slaughterhouse, but in the vast and isolated Outback. The respected THINKK (The Think Tank for Kangaroos based at Sydney University) say: "… field data suggests that anywhere from 120,000 to over a million kangaroos are miss-shot and processed annually. It is unknown how many are left behind. There is virtually no monitoring of killing in the field and given the field conditions of the killing it impossible to do so."

From our past experience with consumers, we know that they are horrified by the ‘collateral damage’ of joeys. THINNK say: “855,000 dependent young die as a waste product of the commercial kill”. We fail to see how that can be described as ‘welfare friendly’.

We have already sent you the official guidelines that dictate that pouch young should be decapitated or essentially have their heads bashed in. Whereas adolescents are meant to shot (neither is commercially used by the industry but are essentially just dumped). Recent reports have detailed that many shooters do not kill joeys and leave them to die from starvation or predation. Senator Lee Rhiannon, in her question to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee in 2015 said: “A recent RIRDC [Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation] report Improving the humaneness of commercial kangaroo harvesting found that: shooters rarely euthanize young-at-foot dependent joeys, leaving them to die in the field for up to 10 days, and that many shooters swing pouch joeys against their ute tray to kill them.” [Report]

THINNK state: “In recent years the commercial killing of kangaroos has been considered to be environmentally friendly due to the perception that there are too many kangaroos and they can replace livestock in the landscape. There is no convincing data to support claims of overabundance. Moreover, kangaroos are mostly shot by shooters in a separate activity to the livestock industry, and we have not observed convincing evidence that replacement is likely to occur in the future.”

Also, THINNK state: “ … long-term research [shows] that there is minimal loss in pastoral property productivity due to competition between livestock and kangaroos for resources.”

Finally, it is a myth that the population of kangaroos is in ‘plague proportions’. Whilst populations do increase and decrease over time, official Australian Government figures show that in 2015 (latest figures) since 2001 there has been an overall drop of 12,577,598 kangaroos in the areas where they are hunted. Louise Boronyak of THINNK told the BBC earlier this year: "Last year there was a mass die-off of roos, probably due to disease. Some areas are now completely devoid of marsupials."

We want to convince you that our concerns are genuine. Commercialising the meat of wild animals – whose populations are finite and unstable – is irresponsible and potentially disastrous.  We believe that the kangaroo industry has not given you accurate information. To continue selling kangaroo meat in Sainsbury’s stores may be damaging to your brand and reputation. We would welcome a chance to discuss this with you in person or via the phone. Also, as previously mentioned, we may launch a consumer campaign aimed at your customers dependent on your answers.

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Sincerely

Justin Kerswell

Campaigns Manager and Deputy Director"