Concerned scientists, academics and public figures have signed a letter to lawmakers of the State of California, urging them to reinstate the ban on imported kangaroo skins and meat.
The Californian ban resumes in 2015 and the commercial kangaroo industry is sure it will convince legislators to permanently lift the ban, allowing unchecked and unimpeded importation of products made from kangaroos.
Claims are concerned with the human killing process, where 855,000 kangaroos are shot each year, suffering violent deaths in the wild. Other claims concern the sustainability of the kangaroo meat industry and the health benefits of kangaroo meat where contamination is an issue.
Welfare and Contamination Researcher Dr Dror Ben-Ami said more kangaroos are already being removed than population can sustain, and the illegal culling is likely to increase as kangaroos are easy to hunt when they are drawn to roadside verges for residue moisture and food.
He said the harvested kangaroo species have population growth rates between 9-13 per cent per year and harvesting quotas allow for a take of 15-20 per cent, plus extra from the estimated population size.
“The concern is particularly acute during drought where populations can drop naturally by 50 per cent over several months due to starvation and dehydration,” Dr Ben-Ami said.
“The effects of climate change, including a potential long-term decrease in rainfall, are also of particular concern as modelling studies indicate that harvesting at current rates will lead to population collapse.”
Letter Coordinator Helen Bergen said Australia has never stopped questioning 30 years of industry marketing, which ensures social and political license for the industry continues.
Additionally, data counts show new shooting areas are appearing as kangaroo populations become exhausted in existing areas.
“The myth of “more kangaroos than there ever were” just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny when you consider their required habitat is mostly cleared across Australia,” she said.
“We want them [Californian lawmakers] to understand kangaroo reproductive biology and ecology instead of the asserted myth that does not stand up to proper scientific scrutiny; that the actual science needs to be separated from assumptions and assertions in the published literature; and that methodology of surveys supporting the whole industry do not meet basic scientific method.”
Australian Kangaroo Industry Association Executive Officer John Kelly was contacted for comment but did not reply.