for National Geographic News
An overabundance of kangaroos munching on native grasses near Australia's capital, Canberra, has left the government little choice but to kill some of the pesky marsupials, authorities say.
In Canberra and elsewhere in the island nation, kangaroos are overgrazing native grasslands and competing with domestic livestock for food.
This concern has led the government of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which includes Canberra, to prepare for an April cull of 400 eastern gray kangaroos from an unused defense site just a few miles from the city's parliament house.
(Related news: "Kangaroos Invading Australian Cities as Drought Worsens" [July 18, 2007].)
The 287-acre (116-hectare) location is also home to endangered species of moth and grasshopper, which rely on the vulnerable native grasses for survival.
"We want kangaroos in the same environment, but just not in the same numbers," said Maxine Cooper, ACT's commissioner for the environment and author of a report that recommended the extermination plan.
"Culling any animal is a concern, but the real issue across the world is that we're losing species daily. The eastern gray kangaroo is not under threat—but there are threatened species on this site," Cooper said.
"If we don't take action, these species won't exist."
No one quite knows how the mob—the name for a group of kangaroos—came to live within the 8-foot-high (2.4-meter-high) confines of the decommissioned naval transmission site.
But in the past decade, numbers have risen from about 30 animals to more than 500, burdening the local ecosystem, according to the government.
The defense department shelved initial plans to kill the kangaroos last year so they could investigate a possible relocation into the neighboring state of New South Wales.
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