Eastern grey kangaroos have been fitted with coloured ear tags at certain places around Canberra. If a tagged kangaroo is seen anywhere except inside a security fenced area* or on the Federal Golf Course at Red Hill, we would appreciate having the sighting referred to the Wildlife area, ie to me or any of the following colleagues - David Wong, Simon Godschalx, or Murray Evans. If you are able to do so, please note which colour is in the kangaroo's left ear and right ear, eg 'Dawn' wears Yellow left, Green right, but 'Thorpie' wears the same colours in reverse. The tags are very conspicuous on the Federal Golf Course, as these are mostly small, tame kangaroos, yet we have used the full size tags as for wild adult kangaroos.
Sen. Ecologist, Wildlife Research and Monitoring,
Natural Environment Policy and Research
Why are we tagging kangaroos? The immediate reason over the next few years is to enable us to assess the efficacy of an oral contraceptive to be developed at the University of Newcastle. We need individual females whose age and reproductive performance is known, in 'treated' and 'untreated' populations. Another longer-term opportunity is to collect ecological information relevant to kangaroo management. That is, information on ageing, movements, fecundity, and mortality. (Eastern Grey Kangaroos can live >20.) Kangaroos can be aged after death from their skull and teeth but we prefer to start with sub-adults because their age is known in advance. Because ear tags sometimes get pulled out in fights, our 'girls' all have implanted 'microchip' tags as well, like pet dogs. They have also given us a little of their DNA. Any research involving animals must be approved in advance by a legally constituted animal welfare ethics committee, as our project has been.
* kangaroos inside security fences are tagged at Government House, Royal Canberra Golf Course (near Government House), and Belconnen Naval Station (aka Lawson Grassland), but occasionally find their way to the outside, especially after going swimming.