Fences to control wild dogs across western Queensland funded by the State Government are being used to help trap and "cruelly" kill native wildlife, kangaroo shooters say.
The State Government has spent more than $31 million erecting cluster fences to control wild dogs across western Queensland, but concerns have been raised the fences were facilitating animal cruelty and interrupting migration of native wildlife.
Cluster fencing is a tall mesh barrier that also runs along the ground, erected by a group of properties who have applied to the Government to keep out feral pests of their land.
Cunnamulla kangaroo shooter Tom King said the fences were cutting off kangaroos and emus from food and water.
"I see a lot of roos up against the cluster fence that can't get through and I see kangaroos perishing because they're used to going to water holes, they can't get through the fence to the water holes now," he said.
"They die of thirst or die of hunger because some of the places they get there's no feed so the Kangaroos can't migrate any further."
Mr King also said some landholders were inviting sporting shooters onto their properties to kill the kangaroos stuck along the fences and that this was not always done humanely.
"It's very cruel to see a kangaroo hobbling around with broken legs, hopping around with bullet holes in his belly," Mr King said.
"I've seen kangaroos shot from the tip of the ears to the tip of the tail just blown away and left the joey there in the pouch still alive.
"You can't make sense of it — it's just something that's out of hand and I reckon something's got to be done about it."
Surat-based kangaroo shooter Geoff Moore said other landholders were using poison to kill kangaroos inside a cluster fence.
"They close it off to their livestock and just put urea in the water trough and the roos go there for a drink because they can't access rivers and creeks or waterholes and it just decimates them," he said.
"They [kangaroos] get a horrible pain in the guts [from the poison] and go away and die — it's barbaric practices really."
Indigenous elders angry at lack of consultation
Murrawri elder Geraldine Robinson said the traditional owners in Cunnamulla were not given the opportunity to perform a work area clearance before land was cleared to build the cluster fences.
"Our old people may be buried there," she said.
"It makes you sick to the stomach that these non-Indigenous people can get away with this without consulting the traditional owners.
"I'm not the only one — half the town is wild because Cunnamulla is mainly an Aboriginal town.
Badjiri elder John Bird described the lack of consultation as disgusting.
"All I'm just worried about is the cultural side of things the sites and the burial sites and there are a lot of burial sites on this country and I know where they are," he said.
"It's just disgusting — the emu and kangaroo, they're the emblem of Australia."
Cluster fences will cripple rural communities
Warroo Game Meats spokeswoman Betty Mickleborough employs about 25 to 30 people in Surat and said the number of kangaroos it processed had halved since the introduction of cluster fencing.
"Without us here there's a lot of these people in this little town would have to leave and move because of the mining industry shutting down — there's not a lot of jobs in these outback towns," she said.
Ms Mickelborough said she has raised her concerns about the diminishing supply with the State Government, but it had fallen on deaf ears.
"I don't want to see them be totally destroyed because they are a lovely animal," she said.
But AgForce spokesman Michael Allpass defended the fences and said the program was about controlling wild dogs.
"Those who've got fences already have seen an increase in inland production in lambing rates from 20 to 80 and 90 per cent," he said.
"The reason why processers aren't seeing the number of kangaroos through the processing worth it because of lack of market.
"There's been the ability for everyone to make comment and raise any concerns that they may have had."
Paroo Shire Council Mayor and grazier Lindsay Godfrey said the construction of the fences has had a positive effect on the Cunnamulla economy.
"Governments will get substantial amounts back from the fence," he said.
"There will be lots of people working who wouldn't otherwise be working out there who are paying tax — this [fence] project is an outstanding example of success."
In a statement, the State Government said it had granted 120 damage mitigation permits this year, which allowed farmers to cull up to 1,000 kangaroos at a time.
It said it had received only two complaints relating to animal cruelty, but was unable to substantiate the allegations.