Two male kangaroos sparring at Emerald Beach.
Two male kangaroos sparring at Emerald Beach.

Ways to reduce conflict with kangaroos

IN light of a recent attack on a five-year-old boy authorities have outlined a number of ways people should behave around kangaroos to reduce potential conflict.

RELATED: Little boy rushed to hospital after kangaroo attack

As urban areas encroach on kangaroo habitat, people regularly come into contact with them.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service says kangaroos are mostly docile, but can be unpredictable if they feel threatened.

Eastern grey kangaroos live in proximity to urban areas - grazing on sporting fields and even venturing into backyards.

They can grow as large as 2.3 metres from head to tail, and weigh up to 95 kilograms.

On the NSW North Coast they breed in response to environmental conditions but generally birthrates peak in the summer months.

A kangaroo basks in the glowing sunlight.
A kangaroo basks in the glowing sunlight.

The NPWS says the risk of being attacked by a kangaroo is very low but there are a number of factors that increase that risk including:

- If they lose their instinctive fear of humans because people have fed or handled them

- If a kangaroo is cornered or startled

- When female kangaroos are weaning their young.

A kangaroo will attack a person as if it was another kangaroo. It may push or grapple with its forepaws or sit back and kick out with its hind legs. As resulting injuries can be serious, avoiding conflict with kangaroos is vital.

It's important to remember not to feed kangaroos. Unnatural food sources often create unbalanced numbers, and cause aggressive behaviour and sickness.

If possible people should keep kangaroos out of areas near their home by fencing it or consider other techniques to discourage them such as using sprinklers, trimming trees or using furniture as a barrier.

People are advised not to move between a female and her joey or walk directly towards a kangaroo.

Do not walk directly towards a kangaroo and those engaged in courtship or mating behaviour (males sniffing, touching or moving round with females) should particularly be avoided.

If you feel threatened by a kangaroo, move well clear and if you are attacked drop to the ground and curl into a ball with your hands protecting your face and throat.

Concerned members of the public should report kangaroo conflicts to NPWS on 1300 072 757.

Attacks can occur when kangaroos lose their instinctive fear of humans.
Attacks can occur when kangaroos lose their instinctive fear of humans.

University research results due out soon

With the potential conflict between kangaroos and humans escalating as more and more new estates are developed the University of Sydney is conducting research into nonlethal population control at a number of kangaroo 'hot spots' in the region.

The locations are: Darlington Beach, Heritage Park (around Heritage Dr at Moonee) and the Look At Me Now Headland at Emerald Beach.

Fertility control is being trialled at all three sites with kangaroos tranquillised and then injected with a contraceptive implant.

Another method being trialled, avoiding capture and potential stress, involves shooting a dart containing contraceptive into the animal.

Associate Professor Catherine Herbert hopes the research will feed into a broader investigation into better ways of managing kangaroos in regional centres.

"One problem is that because kangaroos aren't listed as endangered or threatened they don't trigger any official processes as far as development applications go."

The results from this research are due out within the next 12 months.