Animal Justice Party candidate for Eden-Monaro, Frankie Seymour, has called on the Australian government, whatever parties comprise it after the July election, to take the lead in working to obliterate what she calls ‘Australia’s killing culture’.
Outraged by the ACT government’s announcement last week of yet another slaughter of kangaroos on ACT reserves, Ms Seymour says:
‘Once again the ACT government has ordered this cruel slaughter, based on nothing resembling science, without any monitoring or evaluation to determine what impact the killing is having on either the kangaroos themselves or the native species which depend on the kangaroos to maintain their grassland habitats.
‘Yet the government’s own slaughter is just one of many licenses (83 in 2015) issued for shooting kangaroos in the ACT.
‘In NSW, indeed across the whole country, it’s even worse, with both farmers and commercial shooters rapidly driving various kangaroo species down the road to extinction.’
The killing does not stop with kangaroos, Ms Seymour adds, noting that the NSW government has recently decided to slaughter thousands of brumbies in the Snowy Mountains. Ms Seymour asserts:
‘They know that to make their target residual population of 600 brumbies stick they will have to go on slaughtering thousands or millions of wild horses in perpetuity.
‘And brumbies are just the latest in a long list of naturalised species being persecuted throughout the country, including wild dogs, cats, foxes, pigs, rabbits and deer. Some of the methods for killing these animals are even more cruel than shooting.’
Ms Seymour claims that mass shooting animals of any kind is invariably cruel.
‘There are always some who are wounded and die a terrible death. There are always young animals orphaned. There is always disruption and distress caused to the survivors.
‘But there are even worse killing methods than shooting in use for many of these other naturalised animals – 1080 and other poisons, as well as germ warfare against rabbits. These methods cause excruciatingly painful and lingering death in every single case, whereas shooting at least has some hope of bringing about instantaneous death.’
Ms Seymour claims that ’managing’ animals by killing them is neither necessary nor effective. She points out that every time you kill a wild animal, you get several more of the same species filling the empty niche, as younger, more fertile individuals are born of the survivors.
‘So killing these animals actually ensures you get more of them, at least for a while until the population stabilises around the same level it was before you “managed” it. So all you’ve done is made the problem, if there ever was a problem, worse.’
Ms Seymour says that, if there really is a problem with any naturalised wild animal species, the only effective solution is fertility control.
‘Thankfully, fertility control, as long as it is conducted sensibly, is also the only humane solution – if there really is a problem.
‘But fertility control is not an appropriate solution for kangaroos, who are not naturalised but native animals, because kangaroos are very slow breeders and are already in steep decline. Fertility control will only hasten that decline.
‘On the other hand, it might be a more humane road to extinction than the one our kangaroos are enduring at the moment – if Australians really want their national emblem to become extinct.’
Coming back to the issue of whether either kangaroos or naturalised species really are a problem requiring ‘management’, Ms Seymour responds:
‘Kangaroos are simply not a problem. They were managing the environment in Australia long before even the Indigenous humans arrived, and will continue to do so if we can only let go of our gun-happy culture.
‘With naturalised species like cats, horses, pigs etc, the issue is more complicated. Once a species has found a niche in the ecosystem, it is impossible to remove it in large numbers without doing harm to that ecosystem, sometimes more harm than good. In a rapidly changing environment, as Australia’s has been for the last 200 years, the harm of removing any naturalised animal is very likely to exceed the good.’
Ms Seymour cites the simple but high-profile example of wiping out the feral cats on Macquarie Island. She explains:
‘On the mainland, it is virtually impossible to completely wipe out any fast-breeding species. So killing them just guarantees an increase, rather than a decrease in the population.
‘However, it is possible to wipe out all members of a species on an off-shore island because (if it occurs at all) recruitment from outside is much slower than on the mainland.
‘On Macquarie Island, the government hoped to protect some of the endangered seabirds by killing all the cats.
‘Without cats to prey on the rats, the rats became much more of a danger to the seabirds (eating their eggs) than the cats had ever been!
‘And how does the Australian government respond to this new threat? Let’s kill all the rats now!
‘Still absolutely no consideration of how yet another ham-fisted human incursion is going to resonate down the food-chain!’
Ms Seymour’s conclusion is that Australia’s whole killing culture has to stop in its tracks.
‘The vast majority of Australian people are compassionate, civilised people who want the killing to stop. Most of us also recognise the link between violence against animals and violence against humans.
‘We know in our bones that none of us is safe while guns, poisons and diseases are considered an acceptable way of solving our problems.’
For interviews and further information contact Frankie Seymour on 0405 252 980.
Authorised by Anna Hall, Animal Justice Party NSW