Commercial harvesting of Kangaroos in Australia

by Tony Pople and Gordon Grigg
Department of Zoology, The University of Queensland
for Environment Australia, August 1999
Chapters 10,11,12 and 13 and Appendix 1 provided by staff at Environment Australia



In its report entitled 'Review of Kangaroo Management March 1990' representatives of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) found that 'Adequate legislation exists in all States and Territories of Australia for the protection of the red kangaroo, the eastern grey kangaroo and the western grey kangaroo .... There does not appear to be any large scale illegal killing of kangaroos being conducted in any of the States of Australia having a commercial export kill quota for kangaroos.'

Differences exist between individual State management programs as to the controls employed. These relate primarily to the differing requirements of relevant State conservation legislation and to some extent differing emphases on techniques to be used to monitor population trends. For example, the declaration of an 'open season' or 'harvest period' is required in some States to bring about certain administrative measures under State legislation to regulate, monitor and assess the culling of kangaroos in that State. In other States, similar administrative procedures are effected without recourse to the declaration of an open season or harvest period.

The Commonwealth Government has promoted the need for a consistent approach to be used by all States in developing their management programs, but recognises that some degree of flexibility is needed to address problems which may occur at the State or regional level. Nevertheless there are opportunities to increase the level of uniformity of regulation between the States, and complementarity between the States and the Commonwealth in the regulation of the kangaroo trade.

Regulatory strategies employed may include:

  1. control on time of take (through open season or harvest period declarations);
  2. controls on place of take (regionally through open season or harvest period declarations and at the property level by insisting on the
    approval and endorsement of the property owners before a shooter's licence is issued);
  3. controls on the species (open season or harvest period declarations);
  4. controls on shooter (licensed);
  5. controls on dealer (licensed);
  6. control on number of dealer sites and location (legislation);
  7. controls on possession (permits and licences);
  8. control on total take (quotas and permits);
  9. acquisition of land for nature conservation;
  10. education and extension;
  11. monitoring shooter and dealer returns;
  12. species-specific tags provide an effective, direct and flexible control over the distribution and level of the take, and as a regulatory check against export permits;
  13. assessment of monitoring data including use of signal point to indicate the need for detailed field investigation;
  14. licence compliance through on-the-spot fines;
  15. reconciliation of returns from various licence classes;
  16. monitoring and assessment of non-commercial take through licence returns.

As an example, the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service employs all of the above strategies other than 1., the use of open seasons or harvest periods.

The States employ a number of methods to assist in the management and regulation of the kangaroo take. For example, in Queensland the Queensland Department of Environment (QDoE) may take feedback action, as a result of monitoring and assessing the take, by restricting or rescinding permits and licences or by amending the harvest period declaration to restrict the area of take or the length of the season. Further feedback is available to Queensland through provision of data from ground and aerial surveys, generally undertaken each winter.

An additional feedback loop also occurs via the quarterly reports which are provided by the relevant State agencies to the Designated Authority (Director of National Parks and Wildlife, Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia). Approval by the Federal Minister of a management program can be rescinded should this be required to further the conservation of species subject to the management program.

More detailed information on the regulatory controls of the Commonwealth and State governments is outlined in Chapter 11 and in Appendix 1 to this report.

Regulation of the entry of kangaroos into commercial trade is the responsibility of State wildlife authorities. Regular but random inspections of shooters and dealers are conducted to verify the legality of material in trade. An export permit issued by Environment Australia is required if the kangaroo product is being exported