A SECRET plan to cull kangaroo numbers on Mount Panorama has been labelled scandalous by a national animal protection group.
The Australian Society for Kangaroos (ASK) has used Freedom of Information laws to obtain confidential Bathurst Regional Council documents from late 2015 that reveal plans for a cull later this year.
The report, prepared by corporate services and finance director Bob Roach and tabled at a confidential meeting of council in December, said current measures to control kangaroo numbers around the world-famous circuit – including the installation of fencing, closing of gates, herding the animals away from the circuit, installation of electronic devices to deter kangaroos and discussions with landowners – had proved insufficient and a cull was the next step.
“Even with the implementation of the above [strategies], kangaroos still pose a real threat to motorsport events,” Mr Roach wrote.
Mr Roach’s report said the success and growth of the Bathurst 12 Hour and Bathurst Motor Festival had seen a significant increase in participants and spectators converging on Bathurst each year.
“Given the high potential for conflict between kangaroos and motorsport events, the time is now opportune to create an impact on kangaroo numbers in the Mount Panorama precinct by way of a further cull,” he said.
Mr Roach added that council has also received correspondence from Yeehah Events concerning the problem of kangaroos during the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour event.
The report said any incidents at future events could place in jeopardy the ongoing operations of this event and council’s ability to obtain proper licences from the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) and the Department of Sport and Recreation.
But ASK president Nikki Sutterby has slammed the proposal, saying the kangaroos around Mount Panorama were of intense local, national and international public and scientific interest.
“If Bathurst council kills their kangaroos on Mount Panorama against scientific advice for the sake of just two or three events per year, it will be nothing less than scandalous,” she said.
Ms Sutterby said ASK was particularly concerned that Bathurst Regional Council could decide to shoot kangaroos based on the “uninformed opinions” of councillors and staff.
“Research clearly shows that it’s not the number of kangaroos that increases the risk of collision during the race, but their response to auditory stress,” she said
“If council continues to work with local researchers before and during the race to ensure there are no kangaroos on the track or gaps in the fencing, and it is done with experts who understand kangaroo behaviour, this will ensure the kangaroos are less stressed during the race and completely off the track before the race starts.
“Shooting the kangaroos will increase their stress behaviour, destroy their family groups and social cohesion, increase their movement around the mountain, and potentially increase the risk during races, not to mention the orphaned joeys, the silent victim of these unnecessary shooting programs. There is absolutely no evidence which supports the use of lethal measures to make the races safer.”
While Mr Roach’s report recommended a cull of kangaroos some time after last weekend’s Bathurst Motor Festival, but before the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 in October, no final decision will be made before a further report comes back to open council.