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Australian court stops kangaroo cull near Canberra, at least temporarily

May 20, 2009 |  2:59 pm

Kangaroos

Australia's kangaroos have gotten a reprieve -- at least for the time being. Seven thousand of the 9,000 kangaroos living on defense department land in the Australian Capital Territory were slated for death based upon the assertion that they were harming native grasslands. 

Animal welfare groups disagreed and made their case to an Australian appeals court, which agreed that the killings should cease until a full review is conducted.  About 4,000 kangaroos have already been killed by civilian contractors working for the defense department.  Kangaroo advocates are calling the court's ruling a big victory, as Australia's ABC News reports:

Animal Liberation's lawyer Malcolm Caufield says the Tribunal's ruling sets a precedent and sends a strong message to the ACT Government.

"It gives right to a public interest group that cares about the rights of animals to do something if the Government is acting illegally," he said.

Australian Society for Kangaroos spokeswoman Nikki Sutterby says it is a significant win.

"It's a fantastic victory for kangaroos because for the first time a judge has made the decision on this instead of the Government," she said.

But some government officials are outraged -- Australian Capital Territory Chief Minister Jon Stanhope has said that Canberra's local government may even enact new legislation to prevent courts from intervening in future kangaroo culls. 

The cull is necessary "to not just protect the lands for the eastern grey kangaroos for the long term, but all the species that depend on it," Dr. Maxine Cooper, the Capital Territory's commissioner for sustainability and the environment, told ABC News. 

Cooper and like-minded governmental workers hope the cull will be allowed to continue -- and soon, before the kangaroos further damage the area's ecosystem. 

A panel will hear further arguments on the cull June 2.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Grey kangaroos look up at the Belconnen Naval Transmission Station near Canberra, Australia. Credit: Mark Graham / Associated Press

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