By Taylah Eastwell
A Chirnside golf course has ditched plans to cull a mob of kangaroos living on the green after months of heavy community pressure.
After a stint of silence, Heritage Golf and Country Club released a statement on 22 July announcing that it would not proceed with the planned roo slaughter.
The club says it is now in discussions with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DEWLP) to have the kangaroos relocated back to nearby Warrandyte State Forest.
The planned kangaroo killings first hit headlines on 27 April this year after residents neighbouring the country club were notified at the eleventh hour of a mass shooting planned to take place that evening.
After extensive pressure and a number of vigils staged by locals, the club gave local police their word that the shooting had been called off – but community members remained anxious.
In June, locals reported seeing a number of kangaroos dead, injured and decapitated on the grounds.
At the time, Wildlife Victoria CEO, Lisa Palma, described the deaths as a “prolonged and sustained attack on the kangaroos living at the property”.
“Someone is clearly attempting to reduce kangaroo numbers on the grounds by stealth,” Ms Palma said.
In the 22 July statement, Heritage Golf and Country Club said the kangaroo population at the club had tripled in the last 12 months due to a “breeding surge during the drought and the advantages of easy access to a carpet of grass on golfing fairways”.
Heritage Golf and Country Club managing director Dr Cher Coad said the club did have council approval to kill 250 kangaroos at the site.
“However, we have decided not to proceed,” Dr Coad said.
“Instead, we are seeking a long-term solution to manage the problem and in the short-term, we will be working with council and the Victorian state government to relocate the population,” she said.
“We are a new management team and this decision reflects our new collaborative approach, we are listening to our Heritage Golf and Country Club members, residents and interested parties.
“We have excess numbers of kangaroos on our fairways and grounds, and they are powerful and potentially dangerous. The last thing we want is for a large grey kangaroo to cause harm to a golfer or children visiting their grandparents,” Dr Coad said.
Wildlife Victoria were quick to respond to the statement, slamming it as “fake news” and “a deliberate deflection from the spate of brutal kangaroo killings on the property over the last two months”.
According to Wildlife Victoria CEO Lisa Palma, councils are not responsible for approving kangaroo culls, with the clubs original permit actually coming from the Game Management Authority.
“In direct contrast to Heritage’s statement, Wildlife Victoria has received an inordinate number of calls from concerned members of the public, residents, golfers and staff who are terribly worried for the safety and wellbeing of the kangaroo population on site,” Ms Palma said.
“Some of the larger male kangaroos are known by the locals to be peaceful creatures, who enjoy the natural habitat of the local landscape. Indeed, the big fellow known as Scar Face is beloved by many in the community,” she said.
Ms Palma also called the club out on the breeding claims, stating “female kangaroos commonly have one young annually, with the mortality rate in the wild for joeys typically at 70% in the first year of life”.
Local kangaroo rights advocacy group, Save the Kinley Kangas, described the relocation plan as “absurd and unwarranted given kangaroos have lived there peacefully for over twenty years”.
The Star Mail understands the club now has plans to build fences to prevent kangaroos getting on the green.
“If the Victorian state government was doing its job, in terms of managing the land bordering the Heritage Golf and Country Club, then we wouldn’t have this problem,” Dr Coad said.