The commercial killing of Kangaroos occurs in the outback of Australia. The Australian outback is the vast, remote interior of Australia which for the greater part, is pastoral country, being stocked with cattle and sheep.

It is 6.5 million square kilometres in area (or 2.3 million square miles), and is inhabited by less than 60,000 people, it's a harsh environment, water is scarce and the majority of the soil is infertile.

This is where the majority of Kangaroos are slaughtered for the commercial industry.

New South Wales and Queensland are the two largest States that kill Kangaroos for the commercial industry


As can be seen on these 'Zone' maps the areas where Kangaroos are killed takes up most of the State 

Shooters find Kangaroos by driving around the designated zones in their 4X4 vehicles which have a spotlight mounted on the roof and has the ability to be turned in any direction. When a Kangaroo is caught in the spotlight it 'freezes' and becomes an easy prey for the shooter. 

A  Kangaroo once shot is left where it falls until the shooter has killed a few more.  Each kill should be a clean shot to the head and death instantaneous but this is not always the case and many Kangaroos have shots to the body, legs and face leaving them with horrendous injuries. The shooter is required by the 'code of practice' to kill the injured Kangaroo but this is not always possible as Kangaroos are incredibly resilient animals and will drag themselves off out of the sight of the shooter. They die sometimes a week or more later, the pain and suffering is horrendous. The shooter is also required by the code of practice to inspect the pouch of all females that are killed. If there is a Joey in the pouch the shooter must take the joey out and kill it by crushing the skull, this usually means swinging the joey through the air and bashing it's head on the 'bull bar' of the vehicle. A female Kangaroo may also have an at-foot Joey, if the shooter has noticed one he is required to find the Joey and kill it but this rarely happens and the Joey will usually perish from lack of mothers milk and protection or predation.

When several kangaroos have been shot, the shooter drags them through the dirt by their tail to his vehicle. The vehicle is fitted with a 'rack' on the back tray. This rack has hooks and the Kangaroo is hooked by it's leg onto the rack. Once hooked up the shooter 'dresses' the carcass (gutted, and head cut off)

Shooter sharpening his knives

Carcasses hanging from the rack

These remains are left where they fall

The level of hygiene is practically non existent, the shooter is unable to carry more than 20 lts of water and this is usually for his personal use, he is unable to wash down any areas where blood has collected. During the time the Kangaroos are being butchered, the blood and the spotlight attracts  flies and other insects which crawl over the carcass laying eggs. 

It is not unusual for a shooter to 'nick' the intestines when eviscerating and the contents of the bowel are splattered all over the inside of the carcass, there is not enough water to wash this off and it stays as is. 

The carcasses are left hanging on the racks whilst the shooter drives to a new location, during the drive the carcasses become comtaminated with dirt and the dried faeces of sheep and cattle churned up by the wheels of the vehicle.

When the shooter has finished for the night he/she is required to take all the carcasses to the 'chillers' before the sun rises and the heat of the day descends. This doesn't always happen and the carcasses are exposed to the heat and more flies.

Whilst the 'very strict code of practice' touted by the Government as a surety that the Kangaroo meat is fresh and free from dirt and disease is supposed to be complied with, but compliance is not always followed.

It is impossible to monitor and check that a shooter abides by the code of practice because if the relevant State department wants to inspect the shooters working ethics they need to ask him/her where and when they will be shooting as the shooter does not have to submit a list of times and places where he/she will be on any particular day.

This is a ridiculous situation as the shooter always knows when an inspection is due and will of course have everything ship shape and by the book.

The code of practise isn't worth the paper it is written on and is an absolute farce so far as assuring  the public that these very strict rules are always observed.

Typical chillers  - dirt and rust abounds

Blood covers the tray of the vehicle and a wild pig is hanging from the rack. Note also the dog on the tray.

Chiller with wild pigs hanging alongside Kangaroos

The Australian State and Federal Governments together with the Commercial Industry would have you believe the way Kangaroo meat is 'harvested' is above reproach and this meat is fit for human consumption.

The meat from a Kangaroo is classed as 'game meat' but you would have to be game to eat it.

The information below is taken from 


The author isRaymond Mjadwesch
Consulting Ecologist 

  • Kangaroo are not farmed. They are wildlife, shot at night on private landholdings where landowners engage commercial shooters to remove kangaroos on their properties.



  • Gutting (field dressed) is when contamination is likely to occur due to spillage from the intestines.  Field dressing in the kangaroo industry is unregulated and done without supervision.  

  • Other exported games industries such as in South Africa and Namibia regulate game meat hygiene by permitting gutting only in the presence of certified butchers.

  • In Australia shooters only have to undertake a 6 hour online course with a "short open-book, multiple choice assessment" and a telephone assessment to gain accreditation in field dressing kangaroos.


  • Shot kangaroos are “transported in the open air, gathering dust and flies.” Shot kangaroos may be stored in field chillers and not transported to processors for up to 14 days after being shot.  


  • In April 2015 documents obtained under freedom of information laws revealed that in one year alone the NSW Food Authority found numerous hygiene compliance breaches including chillers contaminated with old blood; dirty floors, walls and ceiling; lack of water and soap for handwashing;  carcasses hung from rusty hooks; and live animals being allowed to roam around the chiller area. 

Health Risks

  • There have been mass mortality events of up to 300,000 kangaroos in commercially killed kangaroo populations due to a number of pathogens whose impact on humans is unknown. Concerns about the cause of these deaths and their risks to human consumption of kangaroo meat have never been answered. 

  • The most recent mortality epidemic was in December 2016 when an ex-departmental vet expressed surprise "at the slow response from industry stakeholders" and concern that government agencies  had not been able to or prepared to investigate the epidemic, and that "implications are concerning not just for kangaroo meat industry, but the [Australian] meat industry in general.

  • Within  Australia kangaroo meat for human consumption is not tested for known kangaroo zoonotic pathogens such as Toxoplasma gondii,  which is a recognised serious long-term human health risk. 

  • Kangaroos carry Salmonella, and meat intended for human and pet food consumption has been associated with high rates of Salmonella contamination for some time.   In 2014, dried kangaroo meat pet food products were recalled in the United States due to the risk of Salmonella contamination. 

  • Previous to current hygiene practices, 44.9% and 33.2% of kangaroo meat samples imported to Japan were contaminated with Salmonella spp. 

  • The industry now advises its shooters to spray kangaroo carcasses with acetic acid in the field,  however Food Standards Australia New Zealand “is not aware of the extent of the use of acetic acid in the production of kangaroo meat”  and “no maximum limits … are prescribed in the Code.  


  • It is recognised kangaroo industry workers are at risk from pathogenic Salmonella spp and other zoonotic pathogens.

  • The Australian Government relies on export kangaroo processors to test and report on coliforms, Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Salmonella. Requirements for reporting are one sample per every 300 to 600 carcasses are tested for E.coli, coliforms and TVC (with a minimum of 1 per truck for field-dressed kangaroos). Just one sample per every 3,000 carcasses must be tested for Salmonella. 

  • Australia does not test exported kangaroo meat for T.gondii, because “no market routinely tests or requires monitoring for Toxoplasma.” Toxoplasma gondii is known to cause significant morbidity and mortality in macropods.

  • Toxoplasma gondii  can cause  serious disease in humans, and lifelong disabilities and brain damage in unborn babies .  It cannot be cured, lies dormant in human bodies and may resurface later in life. It can cause eye disease and blindness later in life, brain and heart inflammation, and  may affect liver, spleen and the immune system. It is increasingly implicated in neurological conditions and schizophrenia.  

  • Increasing consumption of kangaroo meat has been identified as a potential new source of Toxoplasmosis infection for consumers, and as such may be a significant long-term health risk. 

  • In 1994 the Australian Department of Health directly attributed  the “consumption of undercooked [kangaroo] meat”, to a domestic outbreak of Toxoplasma gondii in 14 people which  included one case of congenital toxoplasmosis in a baby later born. However T.gondii is not a notifiable disease in Australia.

       Burke,K (17 Nov 2009) Hygiene threatens kangaroo meat industry Sydney Morning Herald

  • Russia banned kangaroo meat imports due to contamination found in 2009, 2012  and in Macro Meats shipments in 2014. Whilst Russia has continued to detect contamination through its own testing, EU countries (currently the largest importers of kangaroo meat) do not test for contamination because they rely on the Australian hygiene standard and checking system.  

  • Between 2013 to 2015 four incidents​ of contaminated imported kangaroo meat were raised by the European Union and Russia:  The Netherlands found Salmonella spp in frozen kangaroo meat, and E.coli in chilled kangaroo meat. Russia found excess total viable plate (aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms) in kangaroo meat, and E.coli in frozen kangaroo meat.​ 

  • ​In 2002 the EU raised two Rapid Alert system for Food And Feed (RASFF) advices for E.coli in frozen kangaroo meat in the Netherlands and Salmonella spp in chilled kangaroo  meat in Denmark. 

  • Ongoing testing of retail ready kangaroo meat at processing plants and supermarket shelves for E. coli and Salmonella spp shows unacceptable high counts of both pathogens, with repeated findings of contaminated kangaroo meat over many years. 

       Read more here.

  • Kangaroo meat has more L-carnitine per gram than any other red meat, and is associated with the build up of plaque in arteries which causes heart attacks, strokes and vascular disease.  Executive Chairman of Obesity Australia and Professor of Medicine at Monash University (Australia) Professor John Funder was reported as saying “companies selling the meat may also have to reconsider how they market it, given that it is widely perceived to be healthier than other red meats.”  

  • Parts of the pet food industry use sulphite preservatives in kangaroo meat to “mask signs of putrefaction”. High levels of sulfur dioxide causes brain damage and death in dogs and cats due to resulting thiamine deficiency.

Further Information:


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