Kangaroo tracking project helps manage interaction with people

Published 11 August 2016

Male kangaroos in the Coffs Harbour area are being fitted with tracking devices to monitor their movement patterns in peri-urban areas to better manage their interactions with residents as part of a University of New England honours thesis project.

Kangaroos in peri-urban area Zoology student in the School of Environmental and Rural Science, Tim Henderson, has been darting and collaring male kangaroos within Heritage Park north of Coffs Harbour since early June.

“There has been 14 attacks on people in the Heritage Park area over the years and we are hoping this data will be used to help put in place suitable management strategies to prevent future incidents,” Mr Henderson said.

The teams are collecting short and longer-term data using glue-on GPS tracking devices that will fall off after two weeks and GPS collars with radio transmitters that will be recovered in two months time.

“We’ve fitted ten big Eastern Grey male kangaroos with glue-on transmitters that have been recovered and to date we’ve fitted four male kangaroos with tracking collars,” Mr Henderson said.

Tagged kangarooThe information gathered from the tracking devices will be used to help understand the movement ecology of kangaroos in Heritage Park to facilitate safe living between humans and kangaroos in peri-urban areas with frequent kangaroo activity.

Mr Henderson, who is currently working on his honours thesis under supervision of Associate Professor Karl Vernes and Dr Raj Rajaratnam, has already surveyed people’s views on kangaroos.

“Survey results indicated people view kangaroos positively and don’t want them to be culled. They favour sterilisation as a control method,” Mr Henderson said.

“I have already gathered data on kangaroo numbers and learning more about their movement habits is the final component of my thesis.

All information gathered will be factored into proposed management plans.

Mr Henderson’s academic supervisor, Associate Professor Karl Vernes, said data recovered to date has showed a male favouring certain residences.

“Short-term data recovered from one male showed he travelled roughly in a circle; visiting three different properties over 12 days,” A/Prof. Vernes said.

“By identifying patterns we can work with home-owners to be more careful and prepared.”

The project is joint venture between the National Parks and Wildlife Service; the University of New England; Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES); Coffs Harbour Council and community representatives.