Kangaroos could be saved from cull

Locals Phillip Hall from Animal Liberation NSW and Debbie Blundell from the Animal Justice Party were devastated to learn Penrith Anglican College planned to cull kangaroos. Photo: Hilary Nathan Photography.
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Penrith Anglican College (PAC) is set to bow to public pressure and relocate 15 large male kangaroos instead of killing them and burying them at the school.

As revealed exclusively by the Weekender last week, National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) gave the Orchard Hills-based school a permit to cull the kangaroos and bury them on their property.

But after a community backlash, the school is now looking at other options.

Animal Liberation NSW and the Animal Justice Party launched a petition against the shooting of the kangaroos and received 2,500 signatures in less than two days.

Headmaster, Mark Lewis, received a phone call from an Animal Liberation NSW representative on Tuesday night offering to try to find a property owner willing to take on the live kangaroos.

“This, in turn, would allow the College to apply for a release permit from NPWS,” he said.

“While early days, the College is hopeful that we can revisit the option of catching and releasing the small number of problem kangaroos.”

Animal Liberation NSW Director, Hazel Stephens, said it’s great the school is willing to reconsider if a property is found.

“If the way to stop them dying is to relocate them, then find a long term solution, then that’s what we need to do. It’s not the perfect solution but it’s fantastic they are talking to us,” she said.

Ms Stephens said she understood the school was taking the preferred direction of NPWS.

A spokesperson for NPWS said the the only alternative to shooting in this circumstance was capture and relocation, which after assessment (and without a nominated property for relocation), was not a reasonable or viable option.

“In assessing the land manager’s application, NPWS considers if non-lethal methods are available to mitigate the problem and the likely impact issuing a licence would have on the sustainability of the local population,” he said.

“In the present case, NPWS is satisfied that the kangaroos present a significant risk to the children at the school. Shooting is generally the preferred humane option for removing individual animals that pose a threat to human safety.”

It is hoped a resolution will be found in the coming days.

Animal Justice Party’s Mark Pearson held concerns over the message culling kangaroos would send to Penrith Anglican College’s students.

“What kind of message is the school sending to its students that killing healthy kangaroos is an acceptable form of native animal management?” he asked.

“I am sure if we asked the students they would be open to a more humane solution.”

Since the Weekender broke the story (read it here) in our last edition, the Orchard Hills school copped a large amount backlash on social media from community members furious with the school and State Government’s decision.

“You need to know that to destroy all the larger males could potentially increase the population in the longer term as the younger teenage males will be left to mate with the females rather than one alpha male protecting the females from the all the younger males,” Nikki Sutterby wrote on Facebook.

“This will also totally destroy the mob’s social structure and cause more anxiety and stress among the mob, not to mention the fact that you are destroying their leaders and teachers in the big old boys that keep the mob safe and look after and teach the joeys.”

One Facebook user, Henry Atkin, defended the school’s decision, calling those against it extremists.

“They would put the welfare of your kangaroos above the welfare of your children. They also seem to ignore the fact that the NPWS has acknowledged the problem and issued a permit for the culling,” he wrote.

Animal groups thanked the World League for the Protection of Animals for their support, and await a resolution to be reached in this unfolding case.

Penrith Anglican College has issued a letter to parents and carers this morning, August 10.

Dale Drinkwater

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