Wednesday 29 July 2020

Update: Temporary reprieve on kangaroo cull at former Lilydale quarry development

 

A mob of kangaroos about to be shot because they are in the way of a Lilydale housing development have been given a temporary reprieve by the developer late on Thursday.

The cull was ordered by the state environment department, saying it was not practical to move the Eastern Grey roos.

Some kangaroos have been killed already in the past week but about 20 remain, the Leader revealed on Wednesday.

Developer Intrapac is transforming the Kinley Estate on Melba Rd in Lilydale, the site of the quarry which closed in 2015. The 163-hectare location was originally owned by the family of opera legend Dame Nellie Melba for more than 100 years.

Intrapac boss Max Shifman said he had halted the cull and had been trying to find an alternative to a cull in talks with the department for three years.

“We never wanted this to be the outcome but we’d like to see if there is any opportunity to move to animals safely.’’

Residents and wildlife advocates have lobbied Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio’s office, pleading to save the roos.

Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick said he hoped the halt to the cull would enable him to convince the state Government to choose relocation with vets and darters.

Wildlife shelters and a specialist vet is on standby to move the roos.

A spokeswoman for the Conservation Regulator said that kangaroos, when relocated by humans, suffered stress and experience high levels of mortality.

“Release of an animal at a new site is likely to cause further stress as a result of being in unfamiliar surroundings, potential territory disputes with existing kangaroo populations as well risks associated with disease transfer,’’ she said.

A petition, started after a letter from developer Intrapac which is transforming the Kinley Estate on Melba Rd in Lilydale, ‘Stop the culling of kangaroos for Kinley’, already has more than 6800 signatures in about 24 hours.

Residents received a letter from Kinley on July 28, which alerted the community to the imminent cull by an approved Department of Environment, Water, Land, Planning professional shooter.

“Potential options were carefully considered, including on site management, fertility control and translocation,” the letter said.

“Unfortunately after full consideration and investigation of the alternative options the culling approach is deemed the most human method of dealing with the welfare of the local kangaroo population.”

But community members and wildlife advocates are appealing to the developer and the government to stop the “barbaric” plans for the estimated remaining 30 roos.

Mr Shifman said the developer had worked with the department to try to relocate the kangaroos but was not permitted.

“We also looked at sterilisation to allow the kangaroos to live out their days on site, but this too was not an accepted approach by DELWP due to the stress it can cause the animals,” he said.

The company had engaged in “an exhaustive process” of exploring other options.

“The last thing we ever wanted to do was to cull the kangaroos,” Mr Shifman said.

“In absence of a very quick change of policy at DELWP and rapid approvals to relocate, we will be forced to proceed with culling as planned.”

Australian Society for Kangaroos president Nikki Sutterby said: “Killing our native wildlife for development is barbaric and unethical.”

Evelyn state Liberal MP and Opposition environment spokeswoman Bridget Vallence said the department authorised the plan to keep the local community in the dark only providing 48 hours notification of killing these kangaroos.

“It’s tragic we’ve reached a point where our environment laws preference the killing of native wildlife rather than protecting and rehoming them,” Ms Vallence said.

Mr Meddick wrote to Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, appealing for a halt to the killings.

He claimed 20 roos had already been shot and wildlife carers were on standby to save the remaining roos.

“Please stop the killing and give us 24 hours to plan their rescue and rehoming,” Mr Meddick said.

He said the department needed to review its no-relocation policy.

Veterinarian Natasha Bassett was on standby to dart and move the animals.

“We need to develop a better policy to deal with landlocked roos,” Dr Bassett said.

“The solution is not to shoot them but to dart them and relocate them.”

Dr Bassett commended the efforts of Intrapac to save the roos over three years.

Mr Shifman said the company has a major responsibility to the community to manage the kangaroos on the properly.

“This small mob of kangaroos is land locked and has the potential to become a serious hazard as the development progresses,” he said.

“The last thing anyone wants to see is kangaroos fleeing the site, which will be opened up soon, only to cause traffic accidents or worse.”

He said the company has been trying to find an alternative solution to the cull for nine months but cannot wait any longer with the work happening on site.

A Department spokeswoman said the Conservation Regulator approved an Authority to Control Wildlife for Eastern Grey Kangaroos at the Cavehill Limestone Quarry, Lilydale site in August 2019.

The Conservation Regulator is aware of community concerns around the permit, however it is satisfied that the authorisation is necessary for the site.