WARNING – CONFRONTING CONTENT: A Victorian woman who ventured from the confines of her yard and into nearby paddocks looking for her lost dog stumbled across a “horrific scene”.
Sleep-deprived and exhausted after her four-day search across the outer eastern suburb of Chirnside Park, Katarina Ivanovic cried tears of joy after finding her Jack Russell terrier, Niko.
Her happiness turns bitter when she recalls a discovery she made on Sunday.
Speaking with Yahoo News Australia on Wednesday, Ms Ivanovic said the first sign there was "something was wrong" was the overpowering smell and the abundance of flies.
She had been scouring a neighbour’s paddock, looking for rabbit holes in case Niko had run into one and got stuck.
Instead, lying scattered across the ground were the remains of the local mob of kangaroos after what is believed to have been an authorised cull.
“There was heads cut off, there were feet cut off, there were innards everywhere,” she said.
“It was next to a little water reservoir and all the innards were in the water, it was disgusting.
“I was physically sick, I couldn’t check those poor kangaroos bodies for joeys, it was horrific.”
Resident questions how authorised kangaroo cull can occur near suburbia
Over the last two weeks, Ms Ivanovic had been wondering why there had been spotlights moving through the neighbouring paddocks.
She said there were no gunshot noises and no notice that authorised culling was underway, and given that she regularly walks around the area at night, it has left her concerned about safety.
“It’s like it was hidden,” she said.
“We didn’t know they were killing the kangaroos, they slaughtered them.
“This is not out in the country, we’re in Chirnside Park, this is suburbia.
“How can they be shooting next to our properties? We’ve got kids here.”
Government says no evidence regulations breached during kangaroo cull
Despite Ms Ivanovic’s concern about the cull, Victoria’s Conservation Regulator said there was no evidence regulations were violated.
“We have made enquiries in relation to the control of kangaroos and determined that authorisations have been provided to undertake kangaroo management in this area,” a spokesperson said.
“No evidence was found of a breach.”
Landholders can apply for permits to shoot native species under its Authority to Control Wildlife (ATCW) program if they are negatively impacting crops, pasture or infrastructure.
The Conservation Regulator maintains lethal control is only approved when all other practical options to control wildlife have failed, however they do not condone herding or scaring as these measures can pose a welfare risk to animals.
“Before authorisation is granted, applicants must provide sufficient evidence of damage or loss to property, farmland or the environment and an assessment of alternative control options, including non-lethal control must be provided,” a spokesperson said.
Kangaroo advocates say culls negatively impacting communities
The Victorian Kangaroo Alliance, which has been campaigning against the slaughter of macropods across the state, said the Chirnside Park incident was evidence "kangaroos [were] not meaningfully protected".
The advocacy group’s secretary Alyssa Wormald said current guidelines were resulting in communities who love kangaroos being tormented.
“It was highly traumatic for the resident to witness the horrific fate of her gentle local mob,” Ms Wormald said.
“A child stumbling across a sight like this would be scarred for life.
“The continual threat to kangaroos in the area is negatively impacting the wellbeing and peaceful amenity of residents.”
'Kangaroos are our national icon'
The experience has left Ms Ivanovic angry and she's determined to protect the handful of animals who survived the cull.
She said her neighbours had grown to love and encourage the kangaroos into their yards.
When they’d present with joeys at her fence, Ms Ivanovic would open her gate for them so they could graze on her lawn.
“These are our kangaroos, we love them,” she said.
“We take kids to see them, it’s so beautiful that we have this small mob in backyards.
“They’re our national icon and I can’t believe they’re doing it right next door.”
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