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Kangaroo culling laws relaxed by NSW Government on day state declared 100 per cent drought affected

By National Regional Reporting Team's Anna Henderson, Wednesday August 8, 2018 - 14:57 EST
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Kangaroos are plaguing fields and roads as the drought pushes them closer to civilisation for green grass. - ABC

As drought across the whole state is officially declared, the NSW Government has implemented its relaxation of laws around kangaroo culling first announced in June.

Figures from the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) show , with almost one quarter classified as being in "intense drought".

Less than 10 millimetres of rain has been recorded during the past month in the western, north west and central areas of NSW, and kangaroos are reacting to the worsening drought by moving closer to human habitation.

New South Wales Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair says their numbers are now out of control.

"We have kangaroos in plague proportions across NSW now," he said.

Andrew Davidson, a lamb producer at Somerton, outside Tamworth in NSW, said they are competing with domestic stock for resources.

"We've had no stock on it, but the roos have been giving it a pretty good towel up early mornings, late afternoons and during the night," he said.

The NSW Government to make it easier for people to manage the population, which came into effect today.

As part of the drought strategy, farmers can now apply online or over the phone for a licence to shoot the animals, rather than in person.

Carcasses will no longer have to be tagged or left in the paddock, and the meat can now be used for non-commercial purposes, including bait meat.

But wildlife carer and animal activist Professor Steve Garlick, who also runs a sanctuary for injured native animals, has argued there is no plague.

He said the animals are just moving closer to food and water.

"Kangaroos are not in plague proportions. They might be in some specific areas, and that's because we are in a drought, there's no doubt about that," he said.

"But no one seems to be interested in any of the wildlife in this drought situation."

He opposes all kangaroo culling and argues the Government's decision will be dangerous.

"It does send a message to the — what would you call them — 'cowboys' out there who have guns. It gives them a licence to go out and spray their bullets around," Mr Garlick said.

"It really does open the door to that element of society that thinks they can just go out and have fun on a Friday night with a few cans of beer and a gun."

New South Wales Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair has defended the policy.

"Anyone that is concerned about animal welfare should welcome these changes," the Minister said.

"During the drought we don't have enough watering points, we don't have enough growth and pasture on the ground for the kangaroos.

Back in Somerton, Mr Davidson's neighbour Laurie Chaffey thinks roo numbers have exploded and action needs to be taken.

"I guess I feel uncomfortable shooting anything, so when we actually have to do this it doesn't sit easy," Mr Chaffly said.

"But something has to happen."


© ABC 2018

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