December 23, 2009

Kangaroos Run Rampant After Heavy Rains In Australia

A plague of kangaroos has caused thousands of dollars worth of damage after heavy rains swept through areas of Queensland forcing the marsupials to invade farmland that has been previously untouched by the majority of the kangaroo population.

Queensland sheep farmer Stephen Tully told BBC that thousands of kangaroos are running rampant among his fields. The rains have brought the brown fields back to life and the lush grasses have lured the marsupials into the new fertile region.

The grasses are needed for the local stock populations and if the grass goes, the environment suffers. However, it is not only the wet weather that is causing the surge in kangaroos but also the suspension of kangaroo meat imports from Russia earlier in the year due to hygiene concerns. This suspension has led to fewer animals being hunted under license.

While kangaroo populations are on the rise in Queensland, further south the population is suffering due to severe drought.

Officials in New South Wales report that two species - the Eastern and Western Grey - are in significant decline. A hunting ban has been imposed in a 38,000 sq. mile area near the town of Griffith.

Campaigners for animal rights believe that kangaroos are on the brink of extinction. They disagree with the government figures that estimate the population to be around 25 million across the continent.