Subsidized commercial harvesting for cost-effective wildlife management in urban areas: A case study with kangaroo sharpshooting
Mawson, P.R., Hampton, J.O. and Dooley, B. (2016) Subsidized commercial harvesting for cost-effective wildlife management in urban areas: A case study with kangaroo sharpshooting. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 40 (2). pp. 251-260.
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The management of overabundant urban fauna is a contentious issue worldwide, particularly for populations of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in North America and kangaroos (Macropus spp.) in Australia. To be successful, management programs in such settings must be cost-effective, humane, and publicly acceptable. Here, we describe the management of a fenced, urban population of western grey kangaroos (M. fuliginosus) in southwestern Australia, with an estimated population density of 189 kangaroos/km2. After a period of >12 months of solicited public involvement by key stakeholder groups, a licensed professional shooting team, observing a national code of practice, conducted night-time sharpshooting. Over an 11-month period in 2006–2007, 1,009 kangaroos were shot in 43 shooting nights, a mean (±SE) culling rate of 23 ± 3 kangaroos/night or harvest rate of 12 ± 2 kangaroos/hr. Inspectors under the relevant Western Australian legislation functioned as animal welfare observers to ensure that the methods employed for the culling program met the national code of practice and that all license conditions were met. No accidents or injuries occurred during the program. The program produced 17 kg/kangaroo of harvestable meat and biological samples for several research projects. The operational costs of the project were very low, at AU$36/kangaroo, with payments largely limited to incentives paid to commercial harvesters and management staff monitoring public safety and animal welfare. This case study is an example of a publicly acceptable, cost-effective, humane, and lethal urban wildlife control operation. It demonstrates that public acceptance of a cull of wildlife can be forthcoming with appropriate prior consultation and high professional standards.
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