By Taylah Eastwell
An outpouring of care and concern by community members over the fate of a mob of kangaroos temporarily halted a planned roo cull at a Chirnside Park golf course.
Heritage Golf and Country Club released a statement around 2pm on Tuesday 27 April informing neighbouring residents that a contractor had been hired to conduct a planned shooting at the club that evening.
“It is in their best interests not to be out after dark whilst shooting takes place,” the statement read.
Outraged locals took to social media to express their frustration after being notified at the eleventh hour that the shooting would occur between 9pm and 3am that evening.
A local group devoted to fighting for kangaroo rights at a Lilydale land development, Save the Kinley Kangas, was one of the first organisations called upon by anxious and horrified residents.
Save the Kinley Kangas member Alyssa Wormald said 60 to 80 locals pulled together for a demonstration at the site that evening to prevent the cull going ahead.
“We just said if you can get down there, get down there and had people all around the property keeping an eye out and a big presence at the main entrance with signs and people in fluro just there as a support for the kangaroos,” Ms Wormald said.
The cull didn’t go ahead on Tuesday evening, with police allegedly calling it off, but residents remain anxious.
“Residents love them and it is well known that kangaroos are at the course. There has been huge community anguish come out of it, It’s just absolutely tormenting the community because they love these kangas so much,” Ms Wormald said.
“There is so much anxiety in the community that if we let up the pressure they are just going to come out and kill them. As an abundance of caution we are keeping eyes on the property until the manager comes and says he’s not going to kill them,” she said.
A petition was also set up on 29 April, receiving over 1,000 electronic signatures in less than 24 hours.
“It’s kicked off in a really big way. We really want to let the club know the kangaroos are a huge asset for them. They’re not doing damage, they are very welcome and residents love them so it has come as a huge shock that they were going to be slaughtered in this horrific way,” Ms Wormald said.
One of the Heritage kangas, affectionately known as Big Al, has a special place in the hearts of locals who followed his recovery last year when a wildlife shelter nursed him for two months before releasing him back to the country club.
“He’s the local celebrity. He had a hand injury and was nursed back to health by wildlife carers at Five Freedoms Animal Rescue and then released back to the site followed closely by the community, there’s even been a calendar made about him,” Ms Wormald explained.
“They really are loved, it’s the most peaceful and serene place with lots of native birds, it really is special and its so sad that we are all expecting this horrible brutal killing to happen there.
Heritage Golf and Country Club have been called out on social media, with past Facebook posts of pictures on the green posted using hashtags such as #naturelovers and #kangaroos.
“Just the irony – it’s like having your cake and eating it too. To use them as a tourist attraction and part of what makes the club beautiful and appealing while on the other hand wanting to slaughter them for a few bucks and some pet food and skins.
“We are hoping management will see it is a bad move and that they can really save face by turning around and saying look, we got this one wrong.
Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick has been contacted by residents and said he is doing all he can, alongside the dedicated local community and wildlife carers, to stop the cull completely.
“Our native wildlife deserves so much better than this. Cull permits and ‘harvest’ plans must be ended, and instead a focus put on non-lethal alternatives,” he shared on Facebook.
Wildlife Victoria CEO, Lisa Palma, said Wildlife Victoria was working with local authorities and community members to try to stop the kangaroos from being killed.
“We would welcome the opportunity to speak with Heritage Golf and Country Club Management. Wildlife Victoria would very much like to see this issue resolved quickly and positively so that the kangaroos are no longer under threat,“ she said.