Fairfax have today provided space for animal rights activist Brian Sherman to spell out some of his objections to the harvesting of Kangaroos. Unfortunately for anyone interested in this debate, Brian has decided to swamp us with emotive arguments and misinformation rather than addressing the issue honestly.

First Brian tries to upset us by highlighting:

the institutionalised animal abuse that underpins the commercial trade in kangaroo meat.

But doesn’t bother to provide any evidence of this institutionalised abuse.

Then Brian switches to outright misinformation:

Unlike food animals which are “produced” on farms, such as cows and pigs, kangaroos are shot in the bush by people ranging from recreational to professional hunters, free of any oversight or scrutiny.

Along with hinting at animal abuse and comparisons to slaughtering baby seals, it seems like Brian is trying to paint a picture of an unregulated free for all where people are shooting kangaroos on a whim, which are then ending up on supermarket shelves. The problem with this is that Brian’s contention that all of this takes place “free of any oversight or scrutiny” has no basis in fact.

The reality is that the kangaroo harvesting industry is heavily regulated, with multiple safeguards. Before you can pick up a rifle to go kangaroo shooting here are some of the steps you must take:

  • Obtain a firearms license;
  • Complete a Kangaroo Harvester Accreditation course, which you must redo every five years;
  • Complete a Game Meat Hygiene and Handling course through TAFE; and
  • Apply for a Commercial Fauna Harvester’s Licence.

The Harvester’s license costs $800 per year, so Sherman’s assertion that people involved in the industry are “recreational hunters” is rather disingenuous. In addition to this, vehicles used by people wanting to shoot for human consumption need to meet stringent guidelines, like having stainless steel trays backs and hot water systems installed for cleanliness, which is also an expensive proposition unless you are serious about this as a small business.

The number of kangaroos harvested each year is set, in NSW, by the Department of Environment, Climate Change and
Water which has a separate quota for each of 14 different regions in the state. Harvesters need to purchase carcass tags from DECCW and tag each kangaroo that they kill for sale, once the quota is reached for any region there are no more tags. No tags, no market for the roo that you shoot as none of the commercial food processors will buy it.

As for Sherman’s argument, again presented without evidence, that:

In a significant number of instances, kangaroos hunted for meat are not killed outright, but seriously injured and left to die slowly and in agony in the bush.


kangaroos that are shot in the body cannot be commercially harvested for meat. These victims of the trade are left in the field.

This is unlikely to be the case as landowners simply will not give permission to shooters who leave carcasses all over their property, because, although Brian didn’t mention it, kangaroo harvesting is not allowed in national parks or other areas managed by DECCW, it all occurs on private property. According to Brian, these properties are ‘the bush’.

Sherman also tries to play on people’s ignorance to paint a picture of the industry being negligent or wasteful:

..the capacity for a clean kill can be impaired by many factors. These include poor visibility (kangaroo hunting frequently takes place at night), the size of the kangaroo’s head presenting a small target and some shooters’ limited skills and inexperience.

Actually Brian, kangaroo hunting takes place almost exclusively at night, it’s why the people harvesting them have almost blindingly powerful spotlights to grab the ‘roos attention. As for the ‘roos having small heads, that’s why the rifles have great big scopes attached to them, makes ’em easy to aim at.

So after painting an inaccurate picture of the people doing the hunting, and the regulations that they operate under, Sherman plays the Skippy card:

Then there are the dependent joeys at foot or in the pouch – an estimated 1.1 million per year – which are the industry’s “collateral damage”.

Estimated by who? Sherman doesn’t say, but he does try his best to make this seem a horrible part of the process:

The unfurred young are bashed to death on the head with a metal pipe or against the tow bar of the hunter’s truck, or decapitated. The Code calls this “euthanasia”. Alternatively, once his or her mother is killed, the joey at foot is abandoned and left to die alone.

Which is it Brian? Euthanasia that you don’t like, or cruel abandonment? Would you be happier if the joeys were shot instead?

Sherman then quotes a new study, which was supported by his own advocacy group, to argue that kangaroo meat cannot supplant meat production from sheep, however this isn’t an argument against the kangaroo harvesting industry as it stands today. It’s like saying we should shut down fish farms because they can’t replace what we catch in the ocean.

If Brian Sherman wants his arguments against harvesting kangaroos to be taken seriously he needs to start by showing some respect to the people in the industry, and arguing the issues honestly. This article does neither of those things.

*The author formerly worked in a store selling firearms.
(Hat Tip: Eponymous)