The National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes (the Code) was released on Wednesday 18 November 2020 following a thorough and independent review to incorporate new animal welfare research, changes to harvesting strategies and public perception of the industry.

The National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes

The Code is a national document intended to guide regulation of humane harvesting practices for the commercial kangaroo industry in Australia. It sets an achievable expected standard for the commercial industry that is backed by evidence-based policy and reinforces the commitment of all parties to the welfare of kangaroos and wallabies.

The review gathered extensive and diverse input from leading animal welfare and kangaroo harvesting experts, state and federal government, kangaroo and pastoral industries, harvesters, animal welfare groups and the public.

The revisions remove any ambiguity and address the minimisation of harm to dependent young, the requirements and qualifications of harvesters and the restrictions on firearms and ammunition.

The 2020 Code sets a benchmark for kangaroo harvesters to follow and provides a basis on which to develop and enhance their knowledge and skills. It can be used to help audit harvesting practices, to inform policy decisions and to educate the general public.

The Code was last reviewed in 2008 and will be reviewed every five years.

Frequently asked questions

1. What is The 2020 National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes?
The National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes (the Code) is a national document intended to guide regulation of humane harvesting practices for the commercial kangaroo industry in Australia. The 2020 Code sets an achievable expected standard for the commercial industry that is backed by evidence-based policy and reinforces the commitment of all parties to the welfare of kangaroos and wallabies.

2. Why did it need to be updated?
The previous Code was published in 2008 and was due for review in 2013. Since the 2008 Code was written, there has been new research that warrants inclusion to ensure the industry maintains best practice. The revised Code includes more detail on best-practice harvesting procedures and clearer guidelines for harvesters with particular regard to minimising the suffering of dependent young.

3. Why did AgriFutures Australia oversee the review and how was the project reference group chosen?
AgriFutures Australia was asked by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment to oversee the review because of its similar work for various rural industries and its foundation in scientific research and evidence-based programs.

The project reference group included representatives from all the major stakeholder groups: the Australian Government, state and territory regulators, animal welfare groups, the kangaroo industry and the pastoral industry.

The review and consultation process was conducted by leading animal welfare and kangaroo harvesting experts Dr Trudy Sharp and Dr Steven McLeod. The review report outlines the process in more detail.

4. How was the general public consulted and informed about the consultation process?
The final Draft Code was made publicly available for comment from Monday, 25 November 2019 to Friday, 24 January 2020. People were informed via a dedicated website, an email, several news publications and through the networks of the project reference group.

The public consultation comprised two surveys with the same questions – one a representative survey of the Australian public and the other an open sample survey. Members of the public could also comment via email submission.

The results of the consultation can be found in the Consultation report available on the AgriFutures Australia website.

5. When will the next review be?
The Code will be reviewed every five years from the time of adoption.

6. What revisions were made to the Code? And what changes were rejected?
The revisions remove any ambiguity and address the minimisation of harm to dependent young, the requirements and qualifications of harvesters and the restrictions on firearms and ammunition.

The 2020 Code sets a benchmark for kangaroo harvesters to follow and provides a basis on which to develop and enhance their knowledge and skills. It can be used to help audit harvesting practices, to inform policy decisions and to educate the general public.
See Factsheet 1 – How the has Code changed

7. What happens if the standards in the Code are not met?
This code of practice has no legal standing until it is written into state or territory regulations. However, all commercial kangaroo harvesters must comply with the Code as a condition of their licence or permit issued by state and territory regulators. The Code is supported by all jurisdictions, and state and territory legislation and auditing procedures are designed to reflect the standards in the Code. If standards are not met, it would impact the industry’s ability to sell its products both domestically and internationally. The Kangaroo Industries Association of Australia only supports code-compliant harvesting.

 

8. How does the revised Code impact harvesters? Are new training, processes or equipment required?
The 2020 Code does not require any additional training for harvesters. However, it includes more detail on best-practice harvesting procedures and clearer guidelines for harvesters with particular regard to minimising the suffering of dependent young. It is recommended all harvesters familiarise themselves with the revised

Code including the changes to standard operation procedures and definitions. AgriFutures Australia will support state regulators in raising awareness about the 2020 Code and ensuring legislation and monitoring aligns with the Code’s recommendations.
See Factsheet 1 – How the Code has changed

9. Why are there lower standards for non-commercial killing of kangaroos and wallabies?
The decision to separate the commercial and non-commercial codes was made during the 2008 review process. It was deemed simpler for states and territories to separate the competency requirements given the different reasons kangaroos were being killed such as for scientific purposes.

Commercial shooters have a higher skill level and are, therefore, expected to make head shots, which are more difficult due to the smaller target, but which cause instantaneous insensibility. Non-commercial shooters, on the other hand, have different skill levels and are more likely to wound the kangaroo or wallaby when attempting a head shot. Therefore, they are also allowed to aim for the chest, which is a larger more stable target.

A new study into the Australian kangaroo industry by animal welfare and kangaroo harvesting experts Dr Trudy Sharp and Dr Steven McLeod found that:
‘Non-commercial shooting’—when compliant with the relevant code of practice—has similar animal welfare impacts to commercial harvesting. However, if it is not conducted according to the code of practice, it can have extremely poor welfare outcomes.”

10. Why doesn’t the Code advise against killing female kangaroos and wallabies?
A male-only policy was not recommended in the Code as research demonstrates that a male-only harvest can actually result in population increases, which is counter to the sustainable management goals of states and territories.

Regarding animal welfare, a new study into male-only harvest by Dr Trudy Sharp and Dr Steven McLeod concluded that male-only harvesting could provide adequate yields for the industry and remove the welfare impact on dependent young affected when their mother was shot. However, there was a significant risk of worse animal welfare impacts if pastoralists relied on untrained and inexperienced shooters to reduce kangaroo numbers.

The commercial kangaroo industry has always had a male bias with the male kangaroos making up 75% of the commercial harvest on average. In 2012, the main kangaroo processors introduced male-only harvesting of kangaroos in response to public concerns about the impact on dependent young. During this time, the percentage of males in the harvest increased to about 95%.

Related Resources

Media Release: The 2020 Kangaroo Code of Practice released

AgriFutures Australia is announcing the 2020 release of The National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes (the Code) following a thorough and independent review to incorporate new animal welfare research, changes to harvesting strategies and public perception of the industry.

Read more

National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes

The National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes (The Code) is a national document intended to guide regulation of humane harvesting practices for the commercial kangaroo industry in Australia. It sets an achievable expected standard for the commercial industry that is backed by evidence-based policy and reinforces the commitment of all parties to the welfare of kangaroos and wallabies.

Read more

The development of a new code of practice for the commercial harvesting of kangaroos

The consultation report presents an overview of the process and consultations to develop a revised national code of practice for the commercial harvesting of kangaroo. The report includes the results from public consultation on the new code and survey results on attitudes and understanding of kangaroo harvesting.

Read more

Factsheet 1: How the Code has changed

The development of the 2020 Code involved a comprehensive review of the 2008 Code led by AgriFutures Australia and conducted by leading animal welfare and kangaroo harvesting experts.

Read more

Factsheet 3: Commercial kangaroo industry

The commercial kangaroo industry is an important part of the Australian agricultural economy, creating jobs and income for many people, particularly in remote and rural communities.

Read more