The 5th of may, 2010 will go down as another dark day in the history of Preston Beach and their love/hate relationship with the local kangaroos. On that day I attended a protest against the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) sanctioned cull of 100 kangaroos on the local golf course and many passionate wildlife supporters were present. There had been no shooting of kangaroos until that point even though the cull officially started several days earlier. Rumours circulated that the cull had been called off due to the negative media attention the Shire of Waroona and the Preston Beach Golf Club were receiving in the local and mainstream media. Upon returning home however I received a call confirming that the shooting had started immediately after the protesters had dispersed.
The Day After
Early morning walkers in Preston Beach the following day were horrified to find blood stained walkways within the “sanctuary” of nature reserves and Yalgorup National Park. A decapitated female juvenile kangaroo was found within the reserve along with an ex-pouch joey with broken limbs. In the week leading up to the killing it was evident that many female Western Greys were accompanied by dependant ex-pouch joeys. When their mothers are shot they will flee in terror and all too often injure themselves in the process. Unfortunately this surviving ex-joey of the previous nights slaughter had to be euthanised as its injuries were too severe.
After arriving in Preston Beach the next day it became obvious that the kangaroo shooters had not restricted their kill to the golf course. There were fresh tyre tracks snaking all the way through the neighbouring reserve and National Park accompanied by pools of blood and bone.
By mid afternoon I had covered much of the golf course and was about to leave when an RSPCA van arrived. The inspector introduced himself and asked a few questions regarding the cull. He had a genuine sense of outrage as to what had occurred the previous night and was very keen to obtain evidence and speak to witnesses. As he was the first (and only) person from the RSPCA to investigate this incident I pointed him in the right direction and gave him a local’s phone number to call. Of major concern was the fact that nobody from the DEC was present during the shooting. Any kangaroo cull literally within metres of a National Park and residents homes should surely require a representative of the DEC to be present. Yes? Well no actually.
The RSPCA official response
In the local media a couple of weeks later the headline read No Cruelty in Roo Cull. The article stated that
”chief inspector Christine Jones visited the area the morning after the Shire of Waroona’s controversial cull at its nine-hole golf course”
Well I can tell you that his name was not Christine Jones and he didn’t turn up until mid afternoon. When presented with the photographic evidence of a decapitated juvenile kangaroo the RSPCA’s chief inspector then goes on to say that they ”could have been taken anywhere”. A valid point maybe in a courtroom but as these photographs were taken by local residents the following morning next to the golf course you would think the RSPCA would investigate this incident a lot more thoroughly. Having seen the sequence of photographs taken that morning it is clear that the photographer is in the area between the golf courses 5th and 6th hole fairways and Lake Preston. This area forms a nature reserve and Yalgorup National Park. The kangaroo in the photograph is too large to be killed by decapitation according to the “Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos” so why wouldn’t the RSPCA investigate this? A spokesman for the RSPCA stated that
”decapitation was sometimes the most humane way to end suffering for joeys wounded during culls”
Either he has not bothered to look at the photographs or he is completely unaware that decapitation is not an appropriate form of euthanising an animal this size. In any case why is he commenting on something he obviously knows nothing about? How is it that the RSPCA supposedly representing “All Creatures Great and Small” and empowered to enforce the Animal Welfare Act can be so flippant about the fate of our Preston Beach kangaroos? Why also are the RSPCA lying about how and who performed their so-called investigation?
The bargain basement Preston Beach Golf Club
The Preston Beach golf course is surrounded by Yalgorup National Park. It is unfenced, not reticulated, seeded or rolled and only mowed a couple of times a year. The fairways consist of native grasses and a huge variety of weeds, a natural food source for the native animals such as kangaroos and emus. The golf club itself uses an image of kangaroos playing golf for its logo and promotes the presence of kangaroos on its course in advertisements. Permission to cull kangaroos was sought by the Shire of Waroona (the landowner) from the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) in the following submission
That Council make application to the DEC issue of the appropriate licences to allow the humane destruction of 100 kangaroos causing damage to the Preston Beach Golf Course and to also allow the destruction of dangerous animals where they pose a threat to club patrons and members of the public” [23.06.2009 Council Meeting]
Hopefully DEC staff were scratching their heads upon reading references to dangerous kangaroos and their justified destruction. What constitutes a dangerous kangaroo anyway? Not a single person in Preston Beach has made a report to Waroona Police or the DEC regarding a dangerous kangaroo. Indeed the minutes of the golf club meeting dated the 10th of May, 2009 (when the decision was made to propose the cull) contain no reference to any real or perceived attack / threat to a member of the public or the golf club by a kangaroo.
The DEC have recommended that the shire commission an ecologist to undertake an independent survey since 2006 to ascertain the current kangaroo population and determine what, if any damage is being done by the endemic wildlife. This survey however was not deemed important enough by the DEC to get in the way of 2 culls it has rubber stamped since making this recommendation. Anyone visiting the Preston Beach Golf Club at night will quickly notice the large numbers of rabbits that dig up the roots of any grasses on the fairways.
Erect a Fence Mr Curley!
The club estimates it would cost the Shire of Waroona approximately $75,000 to fence the course off and therefore exclude kangaroos from the fairways. A modest expense you would think however Waroona Shire Chief Executive Ian Curley disagrees with both the price and its practicality:
”It would keep them off the golf course, but you would have more of them running around the streets”
You would also lose your only drawcard to the Preston Beach golf course, it is after all the only hook they use when promoting the course to outsiders. Believe me there is no other redeeming feature of this course and its got nothing to do with the resident kangaroos. The lack of fencing has a much bigger drawback for the club and that is the ease of access for any idiot in a 4 wheel drive and a belly full of beer. The fairways are notorious for hoons and the evidence is everywhere. Even on the night of the cull the golf course appears to have invaded by idiots. Following vehicle tracks on the 5th and 6th fairways (a few metres from the National Park) the day after the cull were the obvious signs of burn outs from the night before. This was also the area where I found the most blood. The thought of a roo shooting vehicle doing “donuts” on the fairway did cross my mind briefly however I will give them the benefit of the doubt. I would hope that a kangaroo shooter would not want to attract that sort of attention.
In a 12 month period in 2006/2007 Preston Beach recorded the following kangaroo cruelty incidents
- June 2006: Youths in a four wheel drive were seen chasing kangaroos on Preston Beach golf course and trying to run them down
- October 2006: Youths ran over 2 kangaroos
- March 2007: Five kangaroos were run over and deliberately killed
- June, 2007: Witnesses see a four wheel drive running over 3 kangaroos and reversing back over them. A fourth kangaroo was found later with a jaw that had been smashed using a hand held implement. Local Police Superintendent David Parkinson had to shoot the female kangaroo ……10 hours after she had sustained her injury
Of the latter incident, Supt Parkinson had the following to say:
”Some of these people defy comprehension because they are not doing what a normal person does or even a hardened criminal does……. (the kangaroos) are tame, they trust the community, they come up on their lawn and the next minute you get these people who are deliberately killing them”
So where to these sadistic people get their ideas from?
A popular walking trail that follows the boundary of the golf course and the National Park is used by local families, pensioners and tourists. Users of the trail the day after the shooting were horrified to see trails and pools of blood during their walk with some individuals finding dead and injured joeys. There can be no doubt that these culls cheapen the lives of kangaroos and their dependant young in the eyes of some individuals, particularly certain young males. Little wonder that youths in four wheel drives are all too often responsible for sadistic acts against kangaroos anywhere in Australia. Government sanctioned culls only reinforce this behaviour instead of teaching respect for wildlife and the environment.
Combining these sanctioned culls with the RSPCA seal of approval sends a very strong message to the community. Little wonder acts of kangaroo cruelty occur on a regular basis. Only last year the RSPCA prosecuted 2 young males for the mutilation and beheading of a kangaroo. When confronted with a similar incident in Preston Beach they dismiss the evidence and label the act “humane”. The only difference between these 2 incidents is the permission granted by the DEC to the Shire of Waroona. The RSPCA’s interests are not served by openly criticising the DEC or the Shire of Waroona as is evident in the Preston Beach kangaroo slaughter.
Live Sheep Exporters on the board of the RSPCA in Western Australia
The West Australian branch of the RSPCA was featured in a “Four Corners” story in 2004 entitled “A Blind Eye”. In this episode 2 members of the board of RSPCA in WA were exposed as sheep farmers involved in the live sheep trade. Despite this obvious conflict of interest the 2 farmers: Councillor Des Gooding and Councillor Neville Marsh are still on the RSPCA board in 2010. What hope for the kangaroos and sheep of Western Australia with people like these men representing the body empowered to protect them.
As is always the case in kangaroo culls without exception, one organization must state that the kangaroos shot were underweight due to the supposed high numbers. This honour went to the DEC in the case of Preston Beach. Despite all the photographs of healthy adult kangaroos and joeys and the presence of several experienced kangaroo carers within Preston Beach, the DEC thought they would throw that one in for good measure. Sound familiar?
Sat, 2011-07-09 02:37
Cairns Wallabies murdered..