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Kangaroo cull halted in Australia

A COURT suspended a government program to kill 7,000 kangaroos on federal land near the Australian capital yesterday, halting efforts to thin a mushrooming population of the beloved marsupials that authorities say are threatening endangered species.

Animal activists challenged the government's contention that thousands of common eastern gray kangaroos must be slaughtered on Canberra's fringes to protect endangered plants, reptiles and insects that share the grassy habitat with an abundant population of kangaroos.

Killing off vast numbers of the animals - which are featured on the country's coat of arms - is a divisive issue. Population control through vasectomies and oral contraceptives remain experimental alternatives.

Civilian marksmen, contracted by the Defense Department and equipped with telescopic sights, killed 4,000 kangaroos which are largely nocturnal at the Majura Training Area over nine nights since last week.

The department intends to slash the kangaroo population from 9,000 to 2,000 on the 3,000-hectare site.

Australian Capital Territory Administrative Appeals Tribunal President Linda Crebbin yesterday suspended the shooting permits until a three-member panel could hear conflicting scientific evidence in early June.


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