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On the trail of the gunman from Snowy River

'On the trail of the gunman from Snowy River' is the bleeding heart front page story in the Sydney Morning Herald by Fair fax journalist, Yuko Narushima, today (9th January 2010) of poachers slaughtering brumbies.

It is a sick sad tale and one hopes the poachers will be caught and dealt with as soon as possible.

Well I dare our Fairfax journalist, Yuko Narushima, and his employer to provide us with a similar bleeding coverage on the front page to the same plight of kangaroos. Kangaroos are Australia's iconic native animal, in case I need to clarify. Yet the same traumatic wounding to hundreds of kangaroos is occuring daily across outback Australia by state-sanctioned poachers, yet the media remains very quiet.

It's like how the media kept quiet in southern states of American in the Nineteenth Century when white posses went out and strung up blacks.

If Fairfax's front page story on brumbies were actually about the daily comparable slaughter of kangaroos, perhaps his article may then read along these lines...


"Mountain massacre ... some say the kangaroos, must be controlled; others at the sight of a recent shooting, are appalled that as many as 200 kangaroos have been killed.

HIGH in the Snowy Mountains a slain kangaroo lies rotting, her neck twisted horribly.
It is how the female fell when shot by a sniper still at large in the Bago and Maragle state forests. As many as 200 kangaroos have been shot here in the past 18 months.

The gunman, who may not be acting alone, is believed to use a high-powered rifle he is not licensed to shoot.

The female kangaroo was the first of six to be picked off in the latest killing at Christmas. Locals say she was a local who ran wild with other wild kangaroos after a tree fell on her enclosure.

Now the pale kangaroo's insides are visible from a large cavity under her tail where maggots have eaten into her rump. Decaying flesh hangs like stalactites from her hide and the carcass reeks.

Downhill 30 paces, a chestnut yearling lies with a belly deflated into crinkled leather. A fly buzzes in the hole where her eye should be. Another four kangaroos lie dead in a trail behind her.

One shooter lights a cigarette. Smoking helps mask the stench.
''That aroma coming out of it is like perfume, compared with how it was the other day,'' says one bloke, the city friend of a local intent on saving the kangaroos.

"He's obviously shot this one and gone, bang, bang, bang, and shot them in a line.''

''He's getting gutsier,'' says a local wildlife photographer . ''I've got photos where a female kangaroo's given birth while she was dying and the foal has joey too. This is Man From Snowy River country. I just can't get over how someone can be so cruel.''

Hunters shoot to kill. They are trained to pull the trigger only when they are sure of the target. But many of these kangaroos have been gutshot, taking up to four days to die.

Carcasses have been found in state forest - particularly in clearings under powerlines -on leasehold land and on private property. Shooting kangaroos on any of them is immoral and should be illegal if our government had balls. About 32 kangaroos have also been shot.

Police know no one with a licence was hunting in the area at the time of the most recent shootings. ''Our biggest problem is they are in such isolated areas, they don't get identified quickly,'' local police sergeant says.

Compounding the problem are wild dogs and pigs that move in to feast on the evidence.

This is Banjo Paterson country. Yellow road signs that warn of crossing wildlife show a brumby before they show a kangaroo.

On the main street is a saddlery, a takeaway shop and a cafe with meals from $4.50.

''This is a redneck town, and the people's views of kangaroos being vermin go back a long way,'' a local forester says. ''It's opened up a lot of emotion.''

But not everyone is upset. The local roo shooters believe kangaroos are in plague proportion.

''There's romantic shit that goes on, this Skippy stuff. He's got a lot to answer for,'' he says. ''Skippy the bush kangaroo is not genetically related to anything that the first settlers saw.

''We are obligated to control feral kangaroos.''
A local sheep and cattle grazier are trying to ensure sufficient pasture for their livestock which he claims the roos steal. He says the grasses have ''recovered beautifully'' since he removed hundreds of kangaroos that roamed the plains before he arrived in 1999.

The former Rabbitoh used to sell roo meat to the local meat works for $5 each, he says.

There is no suggestion he is involved in the current shootings. As he says: ''I don't have a licence and I don't have a firearm.'' He points to the difference between his part of the plains and that under the ''passive management'' of state forest.

''No one seems to acknowledge that these plains have heritage value - hundreds and thousands, millions of years of heritage value - and people can turn around and say that something [the roos] that's got 50,000 or more years is more important and should be allowed to destroy colonial sheep country.

''As far as the removal of the roos go, I don't know who's shooting and where they're shooting. I really don't know. I sort of clap my hands about it but I can't clap too loud.''

A few kilometres away raindrops glint on a carpet of blackberries. A bull grey looks up and stands rigid in front of his mob.

He twitches, pauses, then bounces off across the plain, a mob of females with joeys and hopping paws behind him.

Original Story: 'On-the-trail-of-the-gunman-from-snowy-river'