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John Forrest Tavern
Actions to help kangaroos transition to natural feeding have been enacted at John Forrest National Park.

Park plans let roos get back to roots

LOLLIES, bread and meat – these are just some of the things the public has been seen feeding the kangaroos at John Forrest National Park despite attempts by the State and wildlife carers to discourage the activity.

Viral online videos of kangaroos hanging out in the now closed John Forrest Tavern have normalised human interaction with wildlife and led to increased health issues in the local population, says wildlife rehabilitator Racheal Kimber.

The Perth Wildlife Rescue Network rehabilitator is controversially speaking out in favour of plans to redevelop the park, which includes phasing out the feeding of a group of kangaroos that were fed by the tavern under a special licence and deterring them away from public visitation areas.

“Although there were signs put in place by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservations and Attractions to stop the public from feeding them, people either chose to ignore them, or thought it was okay because the tavern did it,” she said.

“Reducing public interaction with the animals is going to be the best thing for our native fauna, whether you enjoy feeding them or not, they don’t exist for [the public] to feed and touch,” she said.

Tavern staff were granted a license to allow supplementary feeding of kangaroos three years ago, but not before public outcry over an earlier decision by DBCA to ban the feeding all together, as reported in Tavern wins exemption to feed roos (Echo News, June 2018).

Echo News understands the DBCA has now implemented a diversionary feeding strategy, which means gradually moving feed stations away from the main visitor area and cutting feeding over a period of time until the hand-fed kangaroos are no longer reliant on introduced food.

“On many occasions I’ve seen people feeding them bread, lollies and even meat,” Ms Kimber said.

“On seeing this I have tried to not only inform people of the legalities on feeding wildlife but explain why it’s bad for them.

“Most people were surprised at the information assuming it was the norm and that it was okay to feed them at the park, some people however were actually aggressive, swearing at me, fully abusing me, calling me the fun police, telling me I don’t know what I’m talking about.”

Over the past several years Ms Kimber has tended to many kangaroos at the park, mostly from vehicle collision or to treat sickness related to hand feeding.

“Human food is not a natural food source for the kangaroos and can cause nutritional imbalances, sickness, spread disease and result in negative influences on animal behaviour,” she said.

DBCA says kangaroos that have come to expect regular feeding will continue to live in the park with rangers monitoring their health and wellbeing whilst they transition to natural feeding and foraging in the surrounding bushland.

By Claire Ottaviano 

About The Editorial Team

Echo News gives readers an alternative to other media outlets in WA and enjoys a very high rate of readership in its distribution area. Our Echo News team are a small group of devoted individuals who work hard to give the local community an easy to read, yet intelligent mix of local community stories.

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