Kangaroo Mob

In the past 50 years, the eastern gray kangaroo population around Canberra, Australia’s capital city, has exploded from a few hundred to tens of thousands. Forced from the surrounding drought-stricken hills, hungry kangaroos have done their best to adapt to city life, dining on city parks and suburban lawns—though they do pay a price for their meals. Each year, thousands of kangaroos lose their lives in collisions with cars on busy roads, causing injuries and property damage of more than a million dollars in the process. Overgrazing by large numbers of kangaroos has also created stress on the environment. It’s all led to a government policy of culling, and an emotional public dispute between those who support reducing kangaroo numbers, and those who are appalled by the prospect of killing this beloved Australian icon. The government’s culling “solution” has led some Canberra residents to seek out new, innovative, and kangaroo-friendly ways to regulate the surging population. Can they be relocated, or can their numbers be controlled through forced contraception?

Following the stories of several urban kangaroos, Kangaroo Mob reveals how these metropolitan marsupials manage to survive the city, and documents the ongoing debate on how best to manage them.

  • Jon

    Unfortunately our PBS station always cancels Nature during its end of the year fundraiser and replaces all the good programming with crap, so we didn’t get to see this episode of Nature.

  • f3meyer

    Why do you make it so damn hard to view an episode. You are only hurting your own efforts at support. I want to see the episode about Metropolitan Kangaroos.

  • Phid

    to someone who is thinking about moving to Canberra I found the program enlightening. the dicotimy between peoples thoughts on how to deal with the kangaroo problem is difficult tothink that people cannot get togrther and give their neighbours some space , the roos I mean makes me think twice about moving

  • BioEmeritus

    Wonderful and fascinating program. Instead of culling Roos, why not capture them and sell them to overseas zoos? I’m sure our local zoo would have no problem raising funds for an “Australian outback” exhibit with a breeding mob. My wife and I loved seeing the Joeys and other Roos in the program. They’d be even better in person.

    Koalas drew a big crowd when they we here. And our African savanna and Arctic display are very, very popular.

  • Andrea

    Why can’t they do a catch/release program spaying and neutering the animals instead of the cull? This is effective in keeping cat populations down.

  • shelly

    Culling these beautiful animals is a shame. I think they should be caught live and have the joeys shipped around the world,they seem to be easily domesicated if kept from a young age.Catching and removing the joeys would effectively keep the populations in check.

  • Michael H.

    This was a very well-filmed program, but why were the very fascinating spatial dynamics between suburbanization and the mob explored in so little detail?

    One important problem is the fragmentation of the kangaroos’ habitat by suburbanization, which puts the kangaroos at greater risk — not to mention the greater impacts this kind of development has on environmental resources. How could spatial planning protect the kangaroo range and provide contiguous habitat so human activity less frequently comes into conflict with the patterns of movement of animals?

    The example of the bicycle overpass was very telling — one planning option where automobile traffic conflicts with animal crossings is to construct “wildlife overpasses,” yet in the film the researchers are searching for examples of kangaroos “adapting” to human systems by using a bicycle lane for the same purpose.

    Spatial planning solutions such as green corridors through Canberra’s suburbs would be in the long-term much more effective than the simplistic approach of culling.

  • Natureluver

    It seems so wrong to kill these innocent creatures… but I can see that there can be a big problem … plus them being within the city means many deaths through different ways… but especially traffic… I had one thought … because it would be so expensive to give contraceptives to so many kangaroo… Why don’t they just sedate some of the males and give them a vasectomy… Just a thin hole on each side and a snip snip… This could decrease the population and be so much easier to target the males than so many females…. Just ideas…

  • NolaNatureluver

    It seems so wrong to kill these innocent creatures… but I can see that there can be a big problem … plus them being within the city means many deaths through different ways… but especially traffic… I had one thought … because it would be so expensive to give contraceptives to so many kangaroo… Why don’t they just sedate some of the lead males and give them a vasectomy… Just a thin hole on each side and a snip snip… This could decrease the population and be so much easier to target the males than so many females…. Just ideas… Wonder what would happen when the lead Joey realized that no baby joey’s were being born???? Would he give up feeling he was a failure and allow another to take over??

  • Maryanne Nobile”

    Australia’s national symbol, the kangaroo, recently had its population culled. This act had animal activists up in arms and contraceptive studies are underway to develop a more humane way of dealing with its over population prroblem.

    We like to boast about our population milestones and overbuild to accommodate them. We think nothing of stripping lands clean, rendering those without a voice homeless and exposed to the elements.

    We never seem to learn from our mistakes; will we this time?

  • katey

    i think one of the solutions to the kangaroo problem besides culling is like an “open season”. i live in texas and one of the ways texas controls the deer population is a hunting season. any one who wants to hunt has to have a hunting license and a gun license. you are limited to the amount of deer male and female that you can hunt. that number is dependent on the years weather, in drought the limited number is smaller, in years with no drought the number is larger. this is more humane (spelling sucks) because joeys wont get their heads stomped on and restrictions dont allow the killing of joeys. also the hunting is AFTER mating season where males have had the chance to spread their genes. usally female deer arent trageted like the bucks are. but this way the kangaroos arent hit by cars and die horrible muttilated deaths and they arent killed inhumanely.

  • Louroo

    Phid, this is one of the reasons I moved from Canberra. The local government’s revolting attitude to kangaroos rubs off in the local press and on the locals. There is a horrible stigma attatched to these incredible creatures which I couldn’t bear in the end. If you find an injured roo or even a healthy Joey, it is illegal to help it recover or raise the young. All are euthanaised. There are a few very dedicated groups and individual carers who live just over the nsw/act border who are doing all they can to help the poor canberra kangas.

  • Brokenreef

    The Roos were there first. The wayward wantings on the subject of roadway “crsoss-overs” seems to silly. The Roos would easily pas UNDER the roadway if the road itself was raised such as is done in the western provinces and States of Canada and the U.S. (Deer, wolves, bears and such face a similar challenge in North America.) One of the above comments has to do with birth-control. Excellent! limite the expansion of the population! Why NOT? I’m referrring to “humans” on this. Why must this two legged mechanized primate dominate the entire planet? The spread of Humans is a plague upon this earth. Face it! Deal with it! The government only wants more tax-paying consummers to drive the falsely based economy. Give the Roos the VOTE – maybe “cull” the Humans!

  • Sean

    I am an Australian living in Michigan.

    The suggestions put forth previously while well meaning all have one major flaw. Funding! Who would pay for this expensive approach to mob sizes? This problem is not isolated to just Canberra! its a nation wide problem. The root cause is the lack of a predator for the Roos.This is a man made problem caused many generations ago by farmers who wanted to protect their live stock from dingos. The only remaining real predators are the rare wedge tail eagle and man.

    The united states deals with the exact same overpopulation issues in it deer numbers by issuing annual hunting licenses. Rarely have i ever heard opposition to this. the only difference is that the kangaroo in the eyes of the world holds a magical fascination due to it geographic uniqueness. Just because this creature is only seen by most in a zoo does not make it rare.

    What ever the answer to this overpopulation is, the most important factor in its control will be the almighty dollar. A box of ammunition will always be cheaper, safer and more effective than thousands of vet techs trying to capture and spay these captivating animals.

  • Bob Mathison

    I think they could have a hunting season on the Kangaroos. This would thin out the herd and push them outback where they belong.

  • Joshua707

    Many people living in Aus. that are being affected by this is missing a positive aspect of it all: People get to look or walk outside and see ANIMALS living with them in a kind of symbiotic relationship! THAT’S THE DREAM!! I remember when people were complaining about how this world isn’t that great because they don’t get to live like the people in the movie Avatar do. Guess what? Those people never have traveled out into the wild to experience that we DO live in a world like that. You want FUNDING? Take all the money the government would spend on killing the kangaroos, bullets, firearms, police and “trash” expenses, and instead build perimeters around neighborhoods, streets, and yes, maybe even open a hunting season on them (food only!). Think about how many hungry people around the world would be more than happy to eat Kangaroo meat! Or dart all the kangaroos, transport them to a ship and sail to an abandon island or different part of Aus. where they can flourish within reasonable numbers. Or I got it, here’s another: SAVE THE DINGOS for God sake! People like to blame all their problems on anything and everything. Wake up and realize that if we don’t take care of the natural way of life we only doom ourselves though a chain of reaction of events caused by ourselves! I have a million ideas. Just because it’s easier to blame and convict other things but ourselves, doesn’t mean we should when we have nobody to blame BUT ourselves. Spend a little time and effort to fix the mistakes that we created in the first place and we will enjoy happier lives. Do what makes you happy right? So let’s do exactly that!

    Joshua Asel

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