Racing To Relocate Kangaroos at Mount Panorama

 

Scott Bevins, environmental scientist and graduate from Western Sydney University, has been spending his weekends since February 18th relocating hundreds of kangaroos from Bathurst's Mount Panorama with the Bathurst Kangaroo Project. If you would like to donate to the cause, please go to www.gofundme.com/BathurstRooProject.

Scott Bevins

Scott Bevins, environmental scientist and graduate from Western Sydney University, has been spending his weekends since February 18th relocating hundreds of kangaroos from Bathurst's Mount Panorama with the Bathurst Kangaroo Project. In an effort to increase council revenue, Bathurst Council plans to expand infrastructure for the Mount Panorama car racing circuit to encompass the surrounding area of Mount Panorama. The expansion would displace hundreds of kangaroos into the surrounding area including the Bathurst CBD. When Council began destroying the old apple orchard, home territory and habitat to a resident mob of kangaroos, the mob fled with 21 reports of kangaroos in town on one day alone, with three being struck by cars and others found dead or dying in city streets and backyards.



With an emergency stop put to the destruction, Bathurst Council agreed to meet with the Bathurst Kangaroo Project who had offered to help. Previously in 2009 Bathurst Council shot 228 kangaroos to reduce the risk of circuit drivers hitting kangaroos at Mount Panorama. Surviving kangaroos fled to the Bathurst CBD where they were hit by cars or died from stress myopathy for weeks after. With kangaroos still ending up on the track due to uninformed management actions targeting the kangaroos before races, kangaroo experts know that better options are out there.

"We all need to do our part to care for and protect the environment. Helping out initiatives like the Bathurst Kangaroo Project is powerful way to be an environmental steward in Australia", explains Scott. 


Kangaroo Transport


Ecologist Ray Mjadwesch and Helen Bergen of the Bathurst Kangaroo Project provided Bathurst Council with a proposal to relocate the kangaroos and the Council approved the plan. Applications to NPWS were successful and the Council put in a temporary fence encompassing an apple orchard at the base of Mount Panorama. Kangaroos slowly flocked to and let into the enclosure over a few months. In February 2017, relocation began. More than 300 volunteers including vets, scientists, students, medics and wildlife rescuers have dedicated their time to the cause.

"The interest in the project has been overwhelming and the sheer numbers of volunteers helping with the effort has been extraordinary. It will have been impossible without the community's support, with 100% volunteered expertise and effort", explains Helen Bergen.

Mjadwesch, Bergen, Bevins with his fellow scientist Melanie Purdy, and volunteers have been meeting at the orchard three to five nights a week to prepare for relocation. One team led by Mjadwesch tranquilises kangaroos, while another team led by Bevins and Purdy care for and monitor the sedated animals. It usually takes from nightfall to 11pm to collect the maximum number of kangaroos to be loaded into Mjadwesch's vehicle and a donated troop carrier from SkillSet in Bathurst.

The sedated kangaroos are carefully taken to the release site located about 90 minutes from the orchard. The project's volunteers fenced off 14 hectares as a preliminary release site, which is part of the 800 hectare private release property. Once at the release site, volunteers monitor the kangaroos through the night to make sure that they safely wake up from the sedatives. In the morning, everyone heads off from the release site to do it all again the next night. 


Kangaroo Site


"We have refined procedures and gathered extensive data with this project that will be written up so it can be used as a model for similar projects in the future", says Ray Mjadwesch.

By the time they have finished the Kangaroo Project will have relocated over 300 kangaroos so that the orchard can be destroyed for Council's development plans. Thanks to Mjadwesch, Bergen, Purdy, Bevins, and the numerous other volunteers, the project has received national and international recognition as a model for relocating large numbers of kangaroos. Mjadwesch and Bergen have largely funded the project themselves, spending almost $70,000 out of pocket. The Bathurst Council funded a small portion of the medicants and money is being raised through generous crowd funding donations. However, more funding is needed to pay for the costs of this major wildlife effort. If you would like to donate to the cause, please go to https://www.gofundme.com/BathurstRooProject.

Story provided by Chelsea Maier and Scott Bevins.