The forester kangaroo is Tasmania's largest native land mammal with males standing up to 2 metres tall.
This animal was once widespread through the drier forests and woodlands of the eastern half of Tasmania where it reached its highest densities in the coastal areas of the north-east, and in some of the major river valleys, notably those of the Macquarie and South Esk.
Matthew Flinders and George Bass were the first Europeans to record the forester kangaroo when, in 1798, while on their circumnavigation of Tasmania, they anchored their boat the Norfolk off Green Island in Port Dalrymple at the mouth of the Tamar River.
By the early 1900s, as a result of unsustainable levels of hunting and to a lesser extent land clearance, the species was in serious decline. By 1970, forester kangaroos were to be found in only two areas; parts of the Midlands and the far north-east of Tasmania. This was less than 10% of its range at the time of European settlement and there were serious concerns for the forester's long-term survival.
Since then a number of measures have been implemented to reverse this trend. Increased levels of policing have reduced poaching of this highly desirable game species. An area of forester habitat has been protected in Mount William National Park in far north-eastern Tasmania and the range of the species has been increased by live-trapping animals and releasing them in suitable habitat no longer occupied by forester kangaroos.
However, as most of the species current range is on private land, working with landholders to minimise their impacts on agriculture has been the most important factor in their conservation in recent years.
Surveys of the views of landholders within the forester's range highlight the importance of landholders and government working together to achieve conservation of forester kangaroos. The majority of landowners want to see the survival of the forester on their land provided that they were able to keep them at an acceptable level. Current management aims to achieve this balance and safeguard the long-term survival of the species.
Fencing has been considered but is frequently not effective for animals the size of a forester kangaroo. Moreover, fences can have a widespread impact on population by denying access to seasonal grazing or water and can be argued that it is better to have some kangaroos present in an area with some being culled rather than to have none at all.
Sustainable culling of forester kangaroos on properties where they cause damage is an essential part of the current management strategy.
Surveys of forester kangaroo numbers are undertaken every few years in areas where culling of forester kangaroos is being considered. The results of these surveys, combined with feedback from landholders on crop damage, are used to set regional culling quotas that are then allocated among individual properties within the region. The results of subsequent surveys are then used to adjust quotas to ensure protection of the population.
The culling level is enforced using self-locking tags that must be fitted to the carcases of all animals that are shot. To be most effective, culling should be done over a long period so that the remaining animals are deterred from coming onto crops and high value areas of pasture.
Recent surveys confirm that populations can be managed in a sustainable way using culling as a way of reducing impacts of landholders.
Written by Zoe Tanner and Greg Hocking.
Published by Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment.
(Published in 2000)
Copyright Government of Tasmania 2000 This publication is available online:
Status and Management of the Forester Kangaroo in Tasmania. (954Kb)