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An assessment of animal welfare for the culling of peri-urban kangaroos

Hampton, J.O. and Forsyth, D.M. (2016) An assessment of animal welfare for the culling of peri-urban kangaroos. Wildlife Research, 43 (3). pp. 261-266.

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Context: Shooting is used to reduce the abundance of kangaroo (Macropus sp.) populations in many peri-urban areas in Australia, but there is uncertainty surrounding the animal welfare outcomes of this practice.

Aim: We assessed the animal welfare outcomes of night shooting for peri-urban eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus). We quantified the duration of stress for: (1) shot animals; (2) euthanased pouch young; and (3) other animals in the same social group.

Methods: An independent observer collected thermal imagery data, enabling four key animal welfare parameters to be quantified: instantaneous death rate, median time to death, wounding rate and flight duration of conspecifics. The duration between pouch removal and insensibility was recorded for pouch young. Post-mortem data were recorded to confirm the location and extent of pathology from shooting.

Key results: Of the 136 kangaroos that were shot at, two were missed. The wounding rate was zero, with a 98% instantaneous death rate. The median time to death for the three animals not killed instantaneously was 12 s. For pouch young considered sentient, the median stress time was 4 s. Kaplan–Meier survival analysis revealed that the median flight duration of conspecifics was 5 s.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that night shooting produces a very short duration of stress to shot kangaroos, their pouch young and their conspecifics.

Implications: When compared to other wildlife shooting methods, night shooting is a humane method for culling peri-urban kangaroos.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Copyright: © The authors 2016
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