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



Administration of wildlife exports

Until 1984, the Federal Government Bureau of Customs regulated the export of kangaroo products, but not the taking of kangaroos under the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations. From May 1984, responsibility for the regulation of these exports was transferred to the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service (ANPWS) on promulgation of the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982 (the WP(REI) Act) and its associated Regulations. In 1996, ANPWS was replaced in this responsibility by Environment Australia (Biodiversity Group). The export of all wildlife and wildlife products is now controlled under the provisions of the WP(REI) Act administered by Environment Australia (Biodiversity Group).

For commercially harvested species, the WP(REI) Act requires that management plans must be prepared, submitted for approval, and implemented if products derived from wildlife are to be permitted export from Australia. The practice has been for the State wildlife authorities to prepare the management plans and then implement them following approval. The principal aim of management plans is to ensure the conservation of species over their entire range. The kangaroo management plans describe how the activities of shooters and dealers are regulated, how the size of the population is monitored, the regulations and checks which detect illegal harvesting or over-harvesting and any other measures to ensure conservation of the species. Through the approval of management plans, the Commonwealth Government permits the export of kangaroo products without allowing commercialisation to threaten the survival of populations over the species range.

The Assistant Secretary of Wildlife Australia within Environment Australia-Biodiversity Group, as Designated Authority (DA) under the WP (REI) Act, has an intermediary role in the process of approval of kangaroo management plans by providing advice to the Federal Minister responsible for the WP (REI) Act. The kangaroo management plans have, since 1984, also been reviewed by advisory committees who have contributed to the management arrangements being considered by the Designated Authority. These advisory committees are further discussed later in this chapter.

The 'National Plan of Management for Kangaroos' are guidelines for the preparation of State management plans and were approved by CONCOM in May 1985 and replaced the previous guidelines entitled 'National Kangaroo Management Program'. The National Plan listed two aims of kangaroo management. In September 1990 a third aim was added. The aims of kangaroo management as set out in the National Plan are now:

  1. to maintain populations of kangaroos over their natural ranges;
  2. and to contain the deleterious effects of kangaroos on other land management practices; and
  3. where possible, to manage kangaroo species as a renewable natural resource providing the conservation of the species is not compromised.

The guidelines were written in general terms and, consequently, were not designed to address the specific requirements of the WP (REI) Act. While the time period for operation of the programs is not mentioned in the guidelines, an annual commercial quota is required. This requirement can be met by either specifying the quota figures in the program document or by including a statement of the mechanism for quota establishment.

Action was taken to review the format and operation of management plans, as well as the approval process, following the 1986 Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) decision to set aside approval of the 1985 Queensland plan. One result of this review has been the removal of quota figures from management programs, separating quota approval from management plan approval. From 1987, approved plans gave details on how quotas are to be calculated and enforced, with advice on quota proposals in separate documents. This opened up the opportunity for programs to be approved for several years, with separate annual approval of quota figures.

Advisory Committees to the Commonwealth on kangaroo management arrangements


A National Advisory Committee on Kangaroos (NACK) was established in 1984 as a forum for discussion of issues relating to the management of macropods in Australia. The committee comprised representatives from non-government organisations, State representatives, animal welfare and conservation groups and scientific bodies.

1n 1990, NACK was replaced by two new Committees, the National Consultative Committee on Kangaroos (NCCK) where non-government organisations, animal welfare and conservation groups were represented and where broader issues of public interest concerns were considered, and the Scientific Advisory Committee on Kangaroos (SACK) which provided a forum for technical review of the scientific basis of kangaroo management.


In 1997 previous advisory committees were replaced by the Scientific Committee on Wildlife Use which advises the Minister and the Department on the broad range of wildlife use proposals considered under the WP (REI) Act. It includes representatives with expertise on kangaroo management. The kangaroo management plans are considered by this committee, with input from the State agencies, prior to the Designated Authority finalising advice to the Minister on the plans.