ACT leads way with new fertility treatment for kangaroo management

Australian Greens

To ensure the ACT continues best practice in wildlife management, the ACT Government will integrate fertility control into the ACT’s kangaroo management program, which will enable non-lethal management of kangaroos to commence in some of Canberra’s nature reserves.

The ACT Government has committed over $1.2 million towards fertility control treatments as part of the government’s annual kangaroo management program through to June 2025. The funding of this initiative delivers on the ACT Greens 2020 Election commitment.

“As the Minister for the Environment, I am committed to ensuring that we protect our precious eco-systems using evidenced-based practice,” Minister Vassarotti said. “The ACT wants to make sure our kangaroo management practices are the most humane in the country. We know we need to address over population in ecologically sensitive areas and we have been working for decades to trial non-lethal methods.

“While it is challenging, the majority of the Canberra community understands the need to manage our kangaroo populations in our nature reserves to protect biodiversity. Canberrans have shown interest in non-lethal wildlife management techniques, with 80% of residents surveyed in 2019 supporting the use of fertility control for kangaroos, so I am pleased to announce this development in kangaroo population management for the ACT.

“Through 20 years of ACT Government supported fertility control research with Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, the GonaCon Immunocontraceptive vaccine has proven to be an effective and long-lasting fertility control treatment for female kangaroos. Recent trials of GonaCon are showing that approximately 80% of female kangaroos remain infertile five years after treatment.

“Today’s announcement marks the transition from small-scale trials of GonaCon to broader management use, with the vaccine to be utilised across multiple sites over time.The use of the GonaCon vaccine at selected sites is expected to reduce population growth rates and decrease the amount of conservation culling required in future.

“This is the first time GonaCon will be used at this scale in any macropod species in Australia.”

As stated by ACT Conservator for Flora and Fauna, Ian Walker:

“Eastern Grey Kangaroos are managed in priority areas of Canberra Nature Park each year to protect critically endangered grassy ecosystems from the detrimental impacts of overgrazing. Continuing to manage kangaroo numbers in our reserves is essential to improving resilience to the impacts of climate change.

“Whilst recent rains have provided some much-needed relief for plants and animals, in some areas kangaroos are still above sustainable densities, so population management is needed to ensure all species thrive, including other plants and animals that share these important conservation areas.

“This year, kangaroos will be darted with anaesthetics and injected with GonaCon by hand. At the same time, they will be fitted with ear tags for monitoring purposes. In future, GonaCon will also be administered remotely using a dart that simultaneously injects GonaCon and sprays a marking paint on the fur of the animal.

“Fertility control methods are best suited to relatively small, discrete populations with minimal immigration, so culling will continue to be required as part of our ongoing kangaroo management.”

/Public Release. View in full here.