A CALL to cull kangaroos on Mount Panorama proves Bathurst Regional Council’s fauna management plan has failed, says a local ecologist.
Ray Mjadwesch spoke out yesterday against the cull proposed by Councillor Warren Aubin in yesterday’s Western Advocate.
Cr Aubin said he feared for the future of races like the Bathurst 12-Hour as long as kangaroos posed a threat to drivers.
He said other safety measures had failed and it was time to consider a cull.
But Mr Mjadwesch said that instead of another one-eyed proposal to shoot the kangaroos, he thought the Bathurst and wider community would prefer to see a program which delivered acceptable outcomes for race participants, the public, and the kangaroos and wallaroos.
He said continuing with the fencing program, a specialised and expert approach to wildlife management and handling during races, and more community education will obviously be key elements in ensuring that the kangaroos can continue to inhabit their former haunts on and around the Mount.
“Despite shooting eastern grey kangaroos in 2009, money spent on kangaroo ‘proofing’ the circuit, and the still-to-be-released but ‘expert’ Mount Panorama Fauna Management Plan, Bathurst Regional Council still scored an epic fail when kangaroos were hit in October 2013 during the Bathurst 1000, the Bathurst Motor Festival in April 2013, and during the Liqui-Moly 12-Hour the other weekend,” Mr Mjadwesch said.
“Ironically, Liqui-Moly have a kangaroo on their logo, even as the Lamborghini collected one as a hood ornament.”
And despite suggestions that kangaroo numbers were booming on Mount Panorama, Mr Mjadwesch said the eastern grey kangaroo distribution around Bathurst had declined in the order of 88 per cent.
He said Cr Aubin may not be aware that kangaroos occurred on the Bathurst Plains in 1815 in “great herds”.
“There were flocks of emus, too, as well as bandicoots, bustards, plains wanderers and curlews – all now locally extinct, amongst other species,” he said.
“Thirteen kangaroos is hardly a plague, particularly when you consider that 55 kangaroos were displaced from the Bannockburn Estate subdivision area, many of which have subsequently died on the roads and in the fences.”
Thirteen is the number of kangaroos Robin Hill resident Warren Taylor said in yesterday’s Western Advocate that he could often find in his backyard. He said the bucks “are huge and don’t budge an inch”.
Mr Mjadwesch said it was well understood that loss of habitat and shooting affects kangaroo populations.
He said 95 per cent of their preferred habitat (grassy woodlands) has been cleared for agriculture, and they were listed as endangered in Tasmania in the 1970s.
In addition, 85 per cent of the kangaroo population in Victoria is gone due to agriculture and shooting, and it was the same in western NSW in 2010.
“Decline of the large macropods is being considered currently by the NSW Scientific Committee (the independent body which makes threatened species determinations), even as Cr Aubin sets his mind to shooting the population which persists on and around Mount Panorama,” he said.
“Cr Aubin has no idea how much trouble the species is in, Mr Taylor remains terrified of kangaroos, despite the community education component in the FMP [fauna management plan] and there are still kangaroos and wallaroos being killed on the track,” Mr Mjadwesch said.
“Perhaps this is because the FMP does not have any strategies for what to do if there are actually kangaroos on the track during a race, other than to chase them with stewards.”