Kangaroo issue needs sense, not sensationalism

Quilpie graziers disillusioned at kangaroo management portrayal


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Wendy Sheehan's motion sensor camera picture from a dam on her property at Trinidad, Quilpie, had over 400 social media shares in a month. She said it was impossible to count how many macropods were drinking at any one time.

Wendy Sheehan's motion sensor camera picture from a dam on her property at Trinidad, Quilpie, had over 400 social media shares in a month. She said it was impossible to count how many macropods were drinking at any one time.

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An exploitation of gullible Americans is how AgForce’s macropod representative, Stephen Tully describes the kangaroo documentary now showing in Australian cities.

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An exploitation of gullible Americans is how AgForce’s macropod representative, Stephen Tully describes Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story.

Stephen, also a long-term grazier in the Quilpie district, was one of those interviewed for what promotional material describes as a “groundbreaking film (that) reveals the truth surrounding Australia’s love-hate relationship with its beloved icon”.

The documentary opened in Sydney and Melbourne last week but has been showing to overseas audiences for over a month.

Stephen said the film-makers, Michael McIntyre and Tony Brennan, had done what they accused Australian land managers of doing – exploitation.

“AgForce gave them the facts as we saw them and were promised rebuttal but it didn’t happen,” he said. “They’re getting the free publicity they want. I don’t think the makers care about kangaroos.”

In 2016, when interviewed in Tambo, Mr McIntyre told QCL he expected the documentary would “stir the pot in Australia” because everyone had an opinion.

“We’ve got make sure we don’t get involved in the emotion,” he said. “We hope to make a film that the viewer can decide. We’re trying to present both sides.”

Mr Tully said he had only seen the movie trailer and the reaction from US audiences, which concentrated on the killing of kangaroos.

He said he would be disappointed if the harvesting industry received another setback from the emotive presentation but believed much of the perceptions of exploitation and extinction had been able to be corrected, thanks to the photographs and videos posted on social media showing the true scale of the kangaroo population.

“The Greens and others use Facebook to peddle misinformation but we’ve been able to beat them at their own game, plus the science of counting has been before NSW courts and been proven.”

Wall to wall kangaroos

Fellow Quilpie grazier, Wendy Sheehan, is one of those who supplied vision, courtesy of three motion sensor cameras placed around one the dams on her property to see if wild dogs were watering there.

“They weren’t but red kangaroos were in front of all three cameras, all night,” she said. “Their numbers are as bad as they’ve ever been.”

The message Wendy was trying to share was the unrelenting grazing pressure kangaroos have on pasture growth and regeneration.

She acknowledged it was an issue her forebears helped to bring about when they started storing water in dams, and drilling bores.

“Prior to that, permanent water was restricted to a few rock-holes in the hills and some waterholes in the river systems. Limited water means limited roos.”

Wendy said she didn’t want people to automatically take a stance opposing current kangaroo management practices without having some idea of the scale of the problem

She hadn’t seen the movie either but said there was no way you could show an animal being killed without shocking 90 per cent of the population these days, thanks to an increasing lack of familiarity with that reality.

“What we should be looking at is how much damage kangaroos are doing to native pasture, which they weren’t doing in the past,” Wendy said. “My grandmother grew up in Adavale and she told me that whenever anyone saw a kangaroo in those days, they pulled up to look at it, it was such a rare sight.”

Stephen agreed, noting that it wasn’t until recent years that people needed to drive with bullbars on their cars.

“Roos are doubling the carrying capacity of our country. We couldn’t do what they’re doing even if we were trying to flog our country.

“I can’t see movies like this having any effect on their population.”

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