The town where humans and wild kangaroos coexist

When you prepare to leave the coastal Queensland town of Woodgate near Bundaberg, locals send you on your way by stating “watch out for the roos”.At dusk and dawn they can often prove a hazard along the only road in and out of town through the surrounding national parks. (ABC Wide Bay: Brad Marsellos)
“Dogs and kangaroos will never coexist well and every attempt to do so has ended in abject failure.”Government policy will need to be altered if kangaroo numbers continue to increase and the ACT Government has begun trialling a contraceptive vaccine targeting female kangaroos and is culling 3,200 kangaroos over the next few months.But in Woodgate the locals seem to have found the perfect lifestyle balance with the natives, according to Traci Osborn.”We see them at sunset; we see them at sunrise,” she said.”This year at the Woodgate Australia Day Breakfast there was a kangaroo camped out under the Australian flag.”How Aussie is that? You gotta love Woodgate.” (ABC Wide Bay: Brad Marsellos)
In the past battling bucks have been front page news in the daily Bundaberg paper, with residents woken to screaming bloody roo battles at their front doors. External Link:

Kangaroos enjoying the surf at Woodgate. But according to Woodgate resident of 30 years Nancy Colder, things have calmed down and she feels it’s most likely related to a human population increase.”We have a lot more people living here now, so it’s probably pushed them back into the national park a bit,” she said.”You do have to know how to deal with them because they can get kind of stroppy. Photo:
Tourists choose Woodgate Beach to spot kangaroos not in a zoo environment. “If you get a couple of them fighting, it’s a no-go zone; don’t go anywhere near them.”For business owner Vicki Johnston the kangaroos mean tourist dollars and her bed and breakfast accommodation focuses on the kangaroo drawcard, including the name ‘Two Hops’.”We have just had visitors from the United Kingdom who specifically came to Woodgate looking for kangaroos,” she said.”On an afternoon walk they spotted 38 kangaroos.”They respect them and people want to see kangaroos in their natural habitat and this is a beautiful place to do that.”Move to the inner city only a hop awayAssociate Professor Bob Doneley from the Veterinary Medical Centre at the University of Queensland believes Woodgate Beach is not a unique town as far as kangaroos coexisting with humans.”It’s not unusual to see them in towns and cities, for example Wacol in Brisbane has a large population living in it,” Dr Doneley said.”When it’s dry, kangaroos are forced into coastal areas looking for food, so we are seeing a rise in numbers in some areas and decline in others.”The kangaroos are forced to interact with humans.”Dr Doneley believes the kangaroo could go the way of the brush turkey or possum and take up residence in inner city suburbs around Australia, if they continue to face issues like drought and loss of habitat.”I think they definitely could move to the inner city,” Dr Doneley said.”The only real problem will be pets such as dogs. But are the locals protecting the drivers of the car, or are they protecting the kangaroos?The farewell message perfectly summarises the coexisting relationship the town has with the large population of marsupials that have always called the area home.They live in harmony — most of the time.Mobs of eastern grey kangaroos live side-by-side with the population of around 1,000 locals, feeding on lawns, sheltering on verandas, and playing on the beach alongside children.Woodgate Beach photographer Traci Osborn recently captured a video that went viral on social media, featuring a mob of kangaroos taking an afternoon ocean swim while children frolic in the background.Kangaroos on the beach is a common sight Ms Osborn said, but to see so many with young was a special treat.”One or two kangaroos at Woodgate on the beach is normal for us locals,” she said.”But when the whole family of them came down, there was at least nine, and little joeys playing in the surf.”What blew me away, when I got home I noticed the kids playing in the background, it’s just beautiful and that’s why we love where we live.”The Woodgate residents consider the kangaroos to just be part of the town’s population and, like any neighbour, there can be good and bad qualities in the relationship.”We love them and we love to hate them,” Ms Osborn said.”The people with nice lawns love to hate them because they eat the grass and leave little surprises and then their dogs come along and eat the kangaroo poo.”The big bucks can be dangerous too; we always remember these are wild animals and we just live where they live.”

Photo:
Eastern grey kangaroos feed on lawns in the coastal town, which sometimes causes headaches for homeowners and their dogs.
Map:
Bundaberg 4670

Related Story:
Related Story:
Canberra to shoot extra 1,000 kangaroos, despite contraceptive trial's success
Related Story:
ABC Wide Bay

By

Brad Marsellos

Posted

June 24, 2018 08:09:58

Photo:
Kangaroos and beachside residents live in harmony, most of the time. (ABC Wide Bay: Brad Marsellos)
Why that selfie with a wild animal is a bad idea
'There was a guy who got his stomach gashed open': Carrot-addicted kangaroos attack tourists