2019 kangaroo cull

The 2019 kangaroo conservation cull is now complete and reserve sites are reopen to the public. A total of 4035 kangaroos have been culled.

The reopened reserves are Callum Brae Nature Reserve, Crace Nature Reserve, East Jerrabomberra Grasslands, West Jerrabomberra Grasslands, Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve, Gungaderra Nature Reserve, Kama Nature Reserve, Mulanggari Grasslands, The Pinnacle Nature Reserve, Mugga Mugga Nature Reserve, Isaacs Ridge Nature Reserve, Mount Majura Nature Reserve and Mount Ainslie Nature Reserve.

Advertised closures for Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve for the purpose of rabbit eradication will continue through to 5 October 2019.

Site name Number culled
Callum Brae Nature Reserve/ West Jerrabomberra Grasslands 584
Crace Nature Reserve 170
East Jerrabomberra Grasslands 344
Goorooyaroo Nature Reserve 680
Gungaderra Nature Reserve 283
Mulanggari Grasslands 90
Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve 377
Mugga Mugga/ Isaacs Ridge Nature Reserve 350
Mount Ainslie/ Majura Nature Reserve 1157

Frequently asked questions

Why do kangaroos need culling?

Research indicates that conditions in the ACT region are very favourable for Eastern Grey Kangaroos. As such, their population has continued to increase to the extent that some areas of ACT Nature Reserves have some of the highest densities of kangaroos per square kilometre in Australia (up to almost 700 per km2). This increase is due to the relatively stable environment, abundance of grassed areas, reduction of natural predators like dingoes, reduced hunting and shooting and reduced or eliminated competition from grazing livestock in many grasslands now reserved for conservation.

A high population of kangaroos combined with dry conditions leads to overgrazing in areas, impacting precious ecosystems and threatening the survival of some local flora and fauna species, including some listed as threatened. Localised food shortages can also lead to starvation of individual kangaroos.

As the ACT’s urban reserve network contains nationally significant areas of critically endangered Natural Temperate Grassland and Yellow-box Red-gum Grassy Woodland, the ACT Government has a responsibility to actively manage grazing pressure to protect key conservation values.

Since 2010, what research has been conducted into the impacts of kangaroos?

Since 2010, several scientific research studies have been published evaluating ecological relationships between the kangaroo population, pasture and the inhabitants of the pasture such as plants, insects, reptiles and birds. Collectively the studies provide strong evidence that high densities of Eastern Grey Kangaroos can negatively impact a range of species in the ACT.

The studies cover:

  • research on vegetation at Goorooyarroo and Mulligans Flat nature reserves
  • the effect of reducing grazing on beetle diversity
  • population decline of endangered Grassland Earless Dragons
  • the benefits of coarse woody debris in ecosystem recovery under different levels of grazing
  • impacts of grazing on ground-dwelling reptiles
  • restoration of eucalypt grassy woodland
  • habitat preferences of the threatened Striped Legless Lizard
  • the effect of grazing on bird communities in grassy habitats
  • effects of limited food on kangaroo populations
  • influence of pasture growth rates and condition on kangaroo grazing

See a summary of these studies on the kangaroo research page. Much of this research is also detailed in the Eastern Grey Kangaroo: Controlled Native Species Management Plan and the ACT Kangaroo Management Plan (2010).

How is the number of kangaroos to be culled for conservation purposes calculated?

Population management is based on scientific knowledge supported by ongoing research, appropriate regulation and monitoring, and codes of practice as outlined in the management plan. Different methods are used to calculate the numbers of kangaroos that need to be culled for conservation purposes and for rural purposes.

The number of kangaroos to be culled for conservation purposes in each nature reserve is assessed annually on a reserve by reserve basis using a formula. Culling is conducted in a minority of reserves.

The formula takes into account the current knowledge on the kangaroo density required to support the desired conservation environment across different vegetation types. For example, in Grasslands one kangaroo per hectare allows for the conservation of small animals such as the Striped Legless Lizard.

The target number of kangaroos for a site is subtracted from the actual population, making allowance for population growth in the interim to the next cull. This number is reviewed by government ecologists and adjusted if necessary to compensate for environmental variables such as rainfall and pasture growth.

Four different methods are used to count kangaroo populations depending on the site:

  • direct counts of individual kangaroos
  • sweep counts by a line of people walking through the area
  • walked line transect counts
  • pellet counts, particularly in wooded areas where kangaroos are difficult to see

For reserve specific background information and culling recommendations, see the 2018 Conservation Culling Advice.

For further information on how this advice is derived, see the Conservation Culling Calculator Determination 2018.

How many kangaroos did you cull in 2018?

In 2018, a total of 1822 Eastern Grey Kangaroos were culled within the ACT and 1431 kangaroos were culled at Googong Foreshores in NSW.

What is the difference between the ACT’s culling program and harvesting programs elsewhere?

Kangaroo culling in the ACT is conducted to reduce kangaroo numbers with the aim of either protecting conservation values in nature reserves or to mitigate damage on rural leases. Elsewhere in Australia quotas are set for the sustainable harvesting of kangaroos for commercial purposes, including for human consumption and pet food.

The ACT is the only state or territory to designate a culling season (March to July). The prescribed culling season has been shown to be effective in protecting young kangaroos at an age when they are vulnerable to being orphaned by the shooting of the mother.

Are there alternatives to culling?

Direct habitat management tools have also been investigated for their effects on promoting biodiversity in grassy ecosystems, such as the use of prescribed ecological burning and the addition of coarse woody debris (logs). Research has demonstrated that the impacts of grazing by kangaroos on beetles and reptiles can be partly offset by adding coarse woody debris, which has since prompted the placement of ‘habitat logs’ in a number of woodland reserves. The Grasslands Restoration Project is investigating the benefit to biodiversity of scattered surface rocks in grassland reserves as well as the role of fire in opening up areas of grassy habitat that are not affected by kangaroo grazing.

Translocation is not a feasible option due to the lack of available relocation areas, and concerns about survival rates during and following relocation. The translocation of kangaroos may only serve to shift the problem elsewhere. It could cause enormous stress to the animals and put them at risk of starvation by releasing them into an ecosystem that is unlikely to support additional grazing pressure. The ACT policy against translocation as an alternative to culling is common to all Australian states and territories. For more information, see the kangaroo management plan.

Alternative approaches to managing grazing pressure by kangaroos are being explored. Since 1998, the ACT Government has supported research into fertility control techniques for kangaroos to help limit population growth in conservation areas. To date, the immunocontraceptive vaccine ‘GonaCon’ has shown the most potential, achieving effective contraception for up to eight years following a single-dose administered to sub-adult female kangaroos. Development of a remote delivery technique for this contraceptive agent is currently underway, with promising early results. However ongoing monitoring over multiple years is required before this technique can be proven as a cost-effective management tool to supplement the conservation cull.

What support is there in the community for culling?

Surveys conducted in 2008, 2011 and 2015 indicated there is growing support for the ACT Government’s approach to managing kangaroo populations. The 2015 survey indicated that 86% of ACT residents agreed that culling kangaroos is appropriate under certain circumstances, 76% supported kangaroo culling for conservation of other native species while 7% are against culling under any circumstances. The support for culling has grown from 59% in 2008.

A survey conducted in 2019 is being finalised.

How do you ensure kangaroo culling is humane?

Kangaroos are culled according to the National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Non-Commercial Purposes. The cull method, shooting, is recognised by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments and RSPCA Australia as the most humane method of culling. Kangaroo shooters in the ACT have to pass a marksmanship accuracy test, and tests on the National Code of Practice and macropod identification to be accredited. The ACT is the only jurisdiction to test and accredit non-commercial kangaroo shooters.

In 2017, an audit of compliance undertaken by an independent veterinarian found that all aspects of the Code of Practice were complied with.

Are kangaroos culled because they are pests?

Eastern Grey Kangaroos are not considered as pests, or treated as pests. Grazing is important to the conservation of grassy ecosystems and the kangaroos are central to the healthy functioning of these ecosystems. However, it is critical to manage the kangaroo population so the kangaroos and other grassland and woodland species can live sustainably. The aim of the conservation culling program is to moderate grazing, not eliminate it.

What happens to the kangaroos that are culled?

A proportion of kangaroo meat resulting from the conservation cull is processed into baits for use within the ACT Government wild dog and fox control programs. Carcasses may also be made available to accredited research institutions where it is considered safe to do so and where projects aim to further the understanding of kangaroo biology and/or population dynamics. The remaining kangaroo carcasses are buried. It is not feasible to process the carcasses for commercial purposes.