Native fauna OFF TOPIC

To: 'Adam Spence' <>, 'Con Boekel' <>
Subject: Native fauna OFF TOPIC
From: Don Fletcher <>
Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2018 14:10:17 +0000

Hi Geoffrey and all

That is very interesting.  I have seen eastern grey kangaroos (EGKs), and later wallaroos, colonise many grassy urban open space areas (GUOS), starting with Mt Taylor in 1976. I expect both species to continue to do this because there are still GUOS they could potentially colonise, but the areas are getting smaller and more ‘urban’. An interesting question for the next 20-30 years is what will be the smallest GUOS which can sustain a small permanent population of EGKs? The interest in that question arises because it will be only after the smallest, least attractive GUOS has been colonised, and its kangaroo population has increased to a relatively stable level, that the density of kangaroos in older urban Canberra will stop increasing.


Historic accounts say the Limestone Plains (to the east of the Murrumbidgee) were kangaroo-free in the 1950s due to shooting. The late Louis Margules told me the owner of Bulga Ck sparked local interest by forbidding the shooting of  5 or 6 kangaroos that arrived on his property from west of the river. Louis also said that the only places there were kangaroos to shoot for dog food were on the west side of the river.  But even there they were sparse by current standards. For example, in 1963, the first three kangaroos were seen in the new Tidbinbilla Fauna Reserve, according to the late Mick McMahon, whose account is backed by Department of Territories file records  about proposals to sow lucerne crops and deploy salt blocks to attract some kangaroos in time for the public opening of the reserve.   


By 1975, when I moved to the ACT, EGKs were already present in Black Mt and Mts Ainslie-Majura. But to see a Wallaroo in the ACT in those years you went to Gregory’s lucerne paddock at the foot of Fitz Hill.  There were also a few Wallaroos at Mt Eliza. The first GUOSS I saw colonised was Mt Taylor. Six EGKs arrived in 1976 and over the next few years I keenly observed this group grow to 10, in spite of some losses to unknown causes.  Now EGKs are widespread and abundant in CNP and Wallaroos have become widespread. About 5-8 years ago the first wallaroos colonised Mt Taylor in spite of hundreds of EGKs present.  There are small numbers of Wallaroos now in most of the larger units of CNP but few people recognise the females. Interestingly, many of the reports of females come from COG members.


One of the more interesting GUOS colonisation examples is Weston Park, which has been kangaroo free most of the time I have been here.  Unlike areas colonised long ago such as Mt Taylor, Weston Park has yet to reach kangaroo capacity, or in other words, the population is not yet limited by the combination of food supply (mainly) plus some motor vehicle mortality and some fear of dogs. The population growth rate at Weston Park suffered a setback a couple of years ago when dogs on leads were permitted (meaning dogs off leads were also present). The kangaroos, naïve to both dogs and traffic, were scattered widely (some were tagged which is how this is known), and it seems that many were killed on roads. Another interesting GUOS is the Former National Museum site, where an initial colonisation failed before a later one succeeded.


I estimated 13,500 motor vehicle collisions with kangaroos occur per year in the ACT. This was based on a random phone poll commissioned in 2015 by Parks and Cons which asked licenced drivers if they were driving a car which collided with a kangaroo in the last two years. The poll (available online at also asked related questions including about whether passengers were injured and whether the collision was reported. The majority of collisions are not reported to police, insurers or rangers which is one of the reasons why the estimates from those sources are lower (2,000 to 6,000 per year).  My estimate may be a bit exaggerated due to people including collisions which occurred more than 2 years ago but it is the best estimate available.  The rate of collisions per vehicle per year has been increasing slowly for decades. My understanding of the kangaroo populations suggests that the collision rate per vehicle-year will continue to rise for many more years, and not only in the ACT, but in a region of NSW from Goulburn to Yass to Cooma.  The cessation of shooting of female kangaroos in NSW a few years ago by the kangaroo industry may increase the likelihood of that outcome.


For Con’s benefit, a list of hot spots for kangaroo motor vehicle collisions (based on ranger attendances per kilometre of road) can be found in the ACT Controlled Native Species Management Plan for EGKs.  As I recall, Fairbairn Ave was the leader at the time the figures were collated, but you are right about Monaro Hwy. It was one of the extremely high locations too.

Cheers, Don Fletcher     


From: Adam Spence <>
Sent: Monday, 16 July 2018 5:59 PM
To: Con Boekel <>
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Native fauna


After dark is a real danger. I travelled from Canberra Ave to Theodore early Sunday morning in the misty dark. There were easily a hundred Roos on the grass verges of the Highway.



On Mon, 16 Jul 2018 at 5:29 pm Con Boekel <> wrote:

Hi Geoffrey

Last Sunday we drove from from Canberra Avenue to Michelago. Having noted the seemingly unusually large number of dead roos on the way out, I counted dead roos (or parts thereof) on the way back. (I was a passenger.)

There were 85 dead roos. Several of the dead roos were surrounded by vehicle shards in what I took to be a sort of cause-effect arrangement.

I mention this so that anyone contemplating using that section of the road gives serious consideration to travelling during the daytime.




On 7/16/2018 5:08 PM, Geoffrey Dabb wrote:

Native fauna, Rocky Knob Neighbourhood Park, Narrabundah.  For the first time in memory, kangaroos are feeding in this small park in the middle of suburbia.


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