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What is the difference between non-commercial and commercial kangaroo shooting?

All kangaroo shooters are required to abide by the National Codes of Practice (Commercial and Non-commercial) for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies. The key differences between commercial and non-commercial kangaroo shooters are the level of training and testing required, and the monitoring of compliance with this code of practice.

The general opinion given by those associated with kangaroo management is that there is a far higher degree of inhumane killing of kangaroos in non-commercial killing than with commercial killing. We do not know what the actual level of cruelty is as the level of policing and enforcement of the Code at the non-commercial level is extremely poor.

There are a number of reasons why non-commercial shooting has a higher level of cruelty than the commercial industry. Commercial shooters have to pass a competency test before they are permitted to shoot kangaroos. They also undergo training which covers their requirements under the code. Commercial shooters also have a strong incentive to abide by the code: processors will not accept kangaroos that have not been head-shot, and shooters can lose their licence if they repeatedly present non-head shot kangaroos. No such training or testing requirements or incentives for compliance exist for non-commercial shooters.

Although some non-commercial shooters will be conscientious of the Code and its requirements, there will always be those who are, at best, indifferent to the pain and suffering they inflict. The existence of recreational shooting licences in some States encourages those shooters who are only interested in killing kangaroos for the thrill and ‘fun’ of it. Shooting in parties or kangaroo drives can result in inappropriate behaviour because of the peer pressure involved.

The RSPCA believes that all shooters must be required to undergo adequate training and testing and their activities monitored for compliance with the code, especially in relation to the humane killing of orphan joeys [1]. As a long-term measure, existing non-commercial licences should be phased out, to be replaced by the controlled use of professional shooters. Shooting should only be permitted in areas where the need to manage the kangaroo population has been adequately justified, i.e. where the specific situation has been assessed and there is a clear need for population control. Any such shooting must be part of a fully regulated government supervised management program.


[1] McLeod SR and Sharp TM (2014) Improving the humaneness of commercial kangaroo harvesting. Final report for RIRDC Project No PRJ-004103. Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Canberra ACT. Available at: https://www.agrifutures.com.au/wp-content/uploads/publications/13-116.pdf

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Updated on May 1, 2019
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