WELL-WORN tracks inside the fence are a reminder that kangaroos awaiting their fate on a Cape Schanck property have been trying to find a way out for some time.
The wire fence preventing the kangaroos getting back to Greens Bush National Park was recently repaired so that more than 200 are trapped on the 70-hectare property.
The anticipated culling of the kangaroos – for which the Department of Environment Lands Water and Planning has issued a permit – has galvanised opposition among wildlife groups and concerned neighbours.
Several wildlife groups visited neighbouring properties on Patterson Road last week and received permission to enter for observations. They described it as a “worrisome situation”.
The Victorian Wildlife Shelters Coalition told the shire it had “formally requested that [Energy, Environment and Climate Change] Minister [Lily D’Ambrosio] refer this matter for an urgent investigation into the serious legal and ethical implications of the situation at this property”.
“We ask that [the minister] do everything you can to support the local community in their efforts to find out what is going on and to protect this important population of kangaroos,” co-founder Tina Lawrence said.
Cr Gill said the council had met with DELWP over the “counting processes” of kangaroos. “Despite their publicity they had to admit that they do not count kangaroos on the peninsula, instead using Gippsland figures to help guess [the number],” he said.
“Their estimate of 8000 has no validity, especially when compared with our on-the-ground counting [of about 2200].
“All areas [of the peninsula] have been counted, except the Cerberus naval base where we believe there are roughly 200 eastern grey kangaroos.”
Cr Gill said the proposed culling at the Cape Schanck property “leaves questions about the kangaroos’ future viability on the peninsula, especially when there is no bio-link connection with other areas”.
Wildlife Victoria, the state’s wildlife emergency rescue service, called on the property owner to “meet and discuss a sensible, humane solution for landlocked kangaroos who are fenced in on the property”.
CEO Lisa Palma said the kangaroos were “unable to leave the property and return to the neighbouring wildlife reserve”.
“We understand that in the past, the owners have secured authorisation to kill kangaroos on the property. We are very worried that this might be the fate of the mob that is currently trapped there,” she said.
Ms Palma said Wildlife Victoria opposed any act where “precious native animals are deliberately killed”.
“I’m inviting the property owners to contact us so that we can discuss a way to work through this issue and live in harmony with the kangaroos without lives being lost.”
DELWP has confirmed the landowner has a permit to kill the kangaroos.
“It is Conservation Regulator policy that a land manager exhausts all practical non-lethal control options before applying for an ATCW for lethal control, which is a last resort,” DELWP said.
The Wildlife Shelter Coalition’s Ms Lawrence said the confinement of the kangaroos was a “breach of the Wildlife Act which prohibits private property owners from entrapping wildlife in this way”.
“It is also inconsistent with the Victorian community’s fundamental expectation that kangaroos – which are protected wildlife – should be managed for the diversity of interests in the community, not just not the interests of individual landholders and farmers.”
An online petition to save the kangaroos by Southwest Mornington Peninsula Landcare Group closed with 9415 signatures last week.