Deniliquin panel beaters say there has been an increase in kangaroo-damaged vehicles, reigniting the kanagaroo cull debate.ZOE MCMAUGH July 11, 2014 3:10am
Deniliquin’s panel beaters are quoting on kangaroo-damaged vehicles at least two and sometimes three times each week.
Requests have increased this past month, according to all three local businesses, with one panel beater saying he has at least two kangaroo repair jobs ‘‘on the go’’ each week.
The startling kangaroo collision figures have raised new concerns about driver safety and reignited the controversial kangaroo cull debate.
Riverina Panels owner Tony Jarvis said kangaroos were breeding in large numbers, which is costing drivers.
‘‘It’s been pretty bad since the drought broke,’’ Mr Jarvis said.
‘‘They’re breeding up and the shooters just aren’t shooting them anymore because the bounty price has dropped.
‘‘The damage kangaroos cause is upwards of $2000 to fix – you’d be lucky to get out of it for less than that.
‘‘This week I gave a quote for $8000, with damage to the front and side of the car.’’
Deni Paint ‘n’ Panel owner Will Calagaz said his highest quote this week was for $13,000, which included resetting of airbags.
Mr Calagaz said the average cost for a driver who had hit a ‘roo was about $5000.
All business owners reported dawn and dusk as the worst periods for kangaroos, but said all periods of dark posed a risk.
Shane Mann from King’s Panel Works said wet winters were not normally known for increased kangaroo numbers, saying he believes forest flooding is forcing them to the roadside.
Mr Mann said autumn was usually worst, with kangaroos moving around more after the dry summer in search of food.
Panel beaters say the stretch between Deniliquin and Echuca is particularly bad for kangaroos, but that it’s a problem everywhere.
Murray Shire Mayor Tom Weyrich has been calling on authorities to consider a kangaroo cull for more than a year, and says it’s time for his requests to be taken seriously before there are more human casualties.
‘‘In May a Moama man died in a car crash at Toolleen which has been directly linked to a kangaroo – it’s unacceptable to keep avoiding this issue,’’ he said.
‘‘What the authorities need to realise is that every time a car is damaged, there is a risk someone could be seriously injured.
‘‘I have been calling for a cull for a long time and there has been no progress; once again the state government is very slow to react.
‘‘How many more ways can I tell them? I’ve said it before – we are playing Russian roulette with people’s lives if we don’t do something about the kangaroos.’’
Cr Weyrich said he knows his recommended solution is unpopular, having received numerous letters from animal groups and animal lovers berating him. But he says human lives are more important.
‘‘I got one letter from a woman in London, England asking why we would kill our national emblem, but people don’t realise that our national emblem is killing us.
‘‘We need a controlled cull. It is probably the only sensible solution.’’
Other potential solutions could include building a fence around the Murray Valley National Park, which the business owners and Cr Weyrich agreed would be unsightly and too costly.
An increased bounty on shooting kangaroos has also been floated, but Cr Weyrich questioned whether it would be enough.
Mr Jarvis said he did not necessarily believe a cull was the way to go, but said education was the key until a solution can be found.
‘‘I think kangaroos are just out there, and they’re always going to be. People need to take a bit more care and go a bit slower.’’
NSW Environment & Heritage survey figures released last year indicated an increase of more than one million kangaroos in 12 months – from 700,388 grey kangaroos in the Griffith area, which includes Deniliquin, in 2012 and 1,780,269 in 2013.
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