(3-minute read)

The cruel death of a brushtail possum last month in Aberfoyle Park has sparked outrage amongst the South Australian community.  The possum was shot with a crossbow bolt and bled to death, as did the joey that was in her pouch. The possum was still barely alive when found clinging to the top of a garage door when she was found [1].

Possum killed with crossbow
Possum killed with crossbow [Image courtesy of RSPCA SA]
Although this shooting was illegal due to the native status of the brushtail possum, the destruction of “feral” animals by bow and crossbow remains legal, despite the illegal status of the possession of bows and crossbows when not used for the purpose of hunting. 

This shocking death has coincided with an inquiry in the parliament of South Australia into the use of bows and crossbows in hunting.

The RSPCA has come out publicly in support of the inquiry, releasing a statement raising concerns about the lack of arms regulation in South Australia and the brutal nature of slaughter via arrow.  The statement included a quote from Animal Welfare Advocate Rebekah Eyers who noted that, “ethically, there is no justification for using a method of killing that causes increased suffering when another more humane method is available” [2].

The Animal Justice Party firmly believes that there is no ethical justification for killing innocent animals for sport, and some methods of killing stand out as particularly brutal.  In order to kill an animal with a bow or crossbow, the animal must first lose one third of its blood which can take up to hours depending on where the animal is wounded [3].  Animals who sustain injuries and are not killed often die later of infection [4].  The act of draining an animal of blood or ‘exsanguination’ has shown to cause high amounts of stress when compared to other methods of animal slaughter [5].  Research has shown that even when carried out by a competent marksman the process of dying cannot be described as swift or humane, according to the RSPCA [2].

The perpetrator of the heinous crime committed against the brushtail possum would be issued a fine of $50,000 or sentenced to up to 4 years in jail if caught, and the community agrees that a criminal charge would be an appropriate response to such acts of cruelty [1].  Although it is important to protect our native wildlife, it is surely the gruesome nature of the suffering caused that justifies this response rather than protecting it due to its native status.  This is why the protection of the law should be extended to every animal.  Although ‘feral’ animals are not regarded with the same importance as native wildlife by some Australians, it is imperative that we remember that whether it is a possum or a pigeon that is shot, they suffer equally.  No innocent animal deserves to be shot unprovoked, especially by such a barbaric weapon as a bow or crossbow.

In Australia, only South Australia and Victoria have not yet banned crossbows.  Our Member of Parliament in Victoria, Andy Meddick also sought a ban earlier this year through raising a motion in parliament calling for a complete ban on crossbows.  In his motion, Andy Meddick said that ‘whether an animal is a native or non-native, an arrow through the body is a cruel, slow and painful way to die.’

The Animal Justice Party in South Australia will be calling to have crossbow hunting made illegal in our upcoming submission.

If you would like to see a ban on bows and crossbows please sign the petition.

You can find additional information on the Committee and how to make a submission at www.parliament.sa.gov.au

by Hannah Pledger-Firth

[1] youtube.com/watch?v=A6yFpWpnB8o

[2] https://www.rspcasa.org.au/inquiry-into-use-of-crossbows-and-bows-to-hunt-animals/


[4] http://animalrightscoalition.com/doc/bowhunting_report.pdf

[5] https://www.avma.org/sites/default/files/2020-01/2020-Euthanasia-Final-1-17-20.pdf


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