Humane culling of feral camels – animal welfare concerns in fauna surveys and assessments

In a recent paper by Jordan Hampton and his colleagues, they reported a mean wounding rate of 0.4% and a killing efficacy of 99.6% for camels when shot from a helicopter. Seventy five percent of animals displayed at least one bullet-wound tract in the thorax, 63% in the cranium, and 35% in the cervical spine, with 98% of animals displaying at least one bullet-wound tract affecting the cranium and/or thorax and/or cervical spine.

Dr Hampton says the best way to ensure the camels are killed quickly is through rigorous selection and training of the shooters.

Feral camels are a significant pest species in arid areas of Australia and helicopter shooting to cull animals is an established practice. This paper indicates, when done properly, shooting camels from a helicopter can have good animal welfare outcomes.

Animal welfare is not always considered a high priority when managing feral animals in Australia and should be. This kind of work will hopefully lead to future work on other feral species across Australia. The full journal article can be found here and a summary here.

Dr Jordan Hampton is now assisting Terrestrial Ecosystems to refine its chemical capture protocols for relocating a large number of Western Grey Kangaroos that have been isolated by residential developments on the Swan Coastal Plain. Chemical capture is the immobilisation of fauna using sedative chemicals delivered via dart guns, blow pipes, syringe poles or hand injection.

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Feral camel with young in the Pilbara

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