Former roo shooter 'paying her penance' by caring for joeys dying in bushfires

WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT: A former shooter who killed and butchered countless kangaroos is working to care for native animals dying in the bushfires.

Lyn Gynther, 55, says she is “paying penance” for the bloody work she did to support her children in the 1980s.

“If I didn’t have a family to feed I wouldn’t have gone into it,” she told Yahoo News Australia.

“I would have moved away and starved first.”

Lyn Gythner (left) holds a kangaroo in her arms, and (right) reaches out to a young joey on grass.
Former kangaroo shooter Lyn Gynther is now caring for injured joeys. Source: Supplied

Busy bottle feeding 10 joeys and caring for three sick adults, in her Warwick home, means she only has time to speak for 15 minutes.

The ground temperature is over 63 degrees, the paddocks have crumbled to dust.

Making things worse, the mountain near her property, 159km southwest of Brisbane, has been on fire for nine weeks and escaping kangaroos are getting injured on roads and farms.

At night, she shuts her windows, but smoke creeps into her home through the whirlybird.

“It’s been so bad here that I washed all the joeys’ bedding and the little devils wouldn’t get into it because it stunk of smoke,” she said.

“It’s horrendous.”

Challenging the shooter rules on killing joeys

As a child, Ms Gynther delighted in caring for baby animals.

“It’s the biggest problem my mother ever had with me bringing strays home,” she said.

From Ms Gynther's home a bushfire burns. Right: A hazy day from the bushfire smoke.
The mountain near Ms Gynther's mountain home at Warwick has been on fire for nine weeks. Source: Supplied
Split screen. A joey in a red pouch. A kangaroo lies on the ground with a bandaged arm.
Lyn Gynther is caring for 13 injured or orphaned kangaroos. Source: Supplied

Years later, while working as a shooter, Ms Gynther began to question rules dictating that joeys be killed.

“If it’s small you cut its head off, or you bash it on the head with something,” she said.

“And only if it’s older you’d shoot it.

“That is if it hadn’t taken off after its mother was shot.”

Instead, she started taking the joeys home and raising them, and that’s where her love affair with kangaroos truly began.

“All I can do is my very best to save every baby roo that comes through my door and get them out to a happy life,” she said.

“Then I hope that they don’t get their heads blown off or poisoned, or hit by a car.”

I just think kangaroos are very misunderstood’

Ms Gynther is urgently fundraising to buy hay to feed hungry kangaroos venturing into her town to escape the fires and drought.

She fears for the emaciated, tick-ridden animals which she says are enraging farmers who think they are competing for food with cattle and sheep.

They’re bringing in their new breed of shooters, people who Ms Gynther believes don’t have the same love of animals she does.

“I just think kangaroos are very misunderstood – everything from how little they eat, to their behaviour,” she said.

“Most people hate them, but I’ve managed to get one farmer and his son who are willing to support feed if I buy the food.”

Split screen. A kangaroo lies sick on a sheet, and a close-up of ticks on a kangaroo.
Tired and sick kangaroos are coming into care covered in engorged ticks. Source: Supplied

The first load of hay came in today, and despite her tiny 55kg frame being tired from unloading the bales, she has more work to do.

“Sorry I need to go,” she said.

“I’m trying to make up for the destruction I’ve done to them.”

“I honestly don’t think I’ll ever make up for it.”

The author, Michael Dahlstrom, is a registered wildlife carer in NSW

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