Animal rights activists and Australian hunters have clashed on hunting kangaroos for food and profit, The New York Times reported.
Wayne Pacelle, an animal rights activist, introduced a bill titled the Kangaroo Protection Act to Democratic Rep. Salud Carbajal of California that intends to ban international imports of kangaroo skin, The Times reported. However, Australian kangaroo hunter Ian White argued that American critics do not understand how life is in Australia and that they fail to understand the benefits of hunting.
“These critics just don’t understand how life actually works here in the middle of Australia. Kangaroos have been hunted on the continent for thousands of years and there are still more of them than people,” White told the Times. “I don’t like killing things, I only do it if I want to eat the animal or make money.”
Leslie Mickelbourgh, managing director of Warroo Game Meats, said the critics do not understand their country and that the animals are typically used for meat and are a good alternative to beef and lamb since they do not harm the climate by releasing methane.
“The industry’s critics, they don’t understand our country,” Mickelbourgh said. (RELATED: Australia Is Killing Millions Of Cats. Here’s Why)
The Kangaroo Protection Act, if passed, will ban the killing of kangaroos for meat and leather and cut Australia’s annual $60 million in exports, which could potentially end the kangaroo hunting industry. Mark Pearson, the former director of the Animal Liberation group in Australia, said that after the wildfires, the number of surviving kangaroos is unknown, and therefore hunting should be banned.
“What we realized after the fires was that we don’t know how many of the animals survived,” he said. “If we don’t know how many are there, there shouldn’t be anyone out there shooting them.”
Pacelle and Pearson had formed the international campaign “Kangaroos Are Not Shoes” in response to shoes companies creating products out of kangaroo skin, the Times reported.
Members of the Ethical Treatment of Animals campaign have praised the efforts to end kangaroo hunting and said they would support all efforts to end the killing of kangaroos.
“Any move to stop kangaroos from being shot, their joeys from being pulled from their dead mother’s pouches, and their heads from being bashed in-which is what kangaroo killers do-is a good one,” they said in a statement.
Supporters of hunting have argued that hunters are killing the kangaroos in a humane manner since many are killed illegally by farmers for meat or hit by cars. Recurring droughts in the country have caused a large portion of the kangaroo population to decrease or suffer from starvation, according to The New York Times.
“The people far away, they don’t see that. If you have a shooter, you know they’re doing it the right way,” said Australian farmer Megan Nielsen.
The kangaroo population ranged from 23 to 57 million between 2001 and 2011, according to Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. ABC News reported that the kangaroo population decreased by 25% due to droughts and wildfires.
In 1971, California banned the import of kangaroo parts and three years later, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service banned Australian industries from shipping three kinds of kangaroos to the nation, The New York Times reported.