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Oz animal protection groups are none too impressed by a draft government guide to disposing of young kangaroos (joeys) by either "forcefully swinging" their heads against a vehicle towbar or blasting them with a shotgun, Reuters reports.

The proposed Department of Environment "code of conduct" is designed to deal with joeys orphaned "after the parent has either been shot or hit by a vehicle", and rejects the idea they can be raised by concerned humans.

An Environment Department spokesman explained: "I think we all love kangaroos. The problem is that there are too many. What we are talking about here is responsible environmental management, because if we don't do something you won't have pastures and viable farming. We are trying to come up with something that is practicable to use across sometimes remote parts of the country."

Pat O'Brien, president of the Wildlife Protection Association, duly thundered to local press: "These changes are basically saying the federal government believes it's okay to blast a defenseless joey to bits with a shotgun."

The RSPCA and the Wildlife Protection Association, founded by "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, agree, and have "urged the government to impose a ban on shotgun use in the draft".

Former lawmaker and conservationist Richard Jones warned that the code "could backfire on the government in its campaign against Japanese Antarctic whaling, despite the fact kangaroos are not internationally protected like whales".

He told the Canberra Times: "We can hardly take the high moral ground on animal welfare and whale conservation when the government is prepared to condone barbaric practices regarding our native wildlife." ®

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