Dean's a wildlife carer, his neighbours want to cull kangaroos

Wildlife carer Dean Saxby on his property in Genoa surrounded by eastern grey kangaroos, Photo: Rachel Mounsey
Wildlife carer Dean Saxby on his property in Genoa surrounded by eastern grey kangaroos, Photo: Rachel Mounsey

Dean Saxby has been caring for wildlife on his Genoa property for around 12 years.

He lives alone on the property of several acres on the border of NSW and Victoria, which he purchased from his neighbours, the Beckers, around 17 years ago.

Copious numbers of eastern grey kangaroos sun themselves and casually chew on grass around Dean's doorway daily.

Although the kangaroos are wild they have taken a liking to life at Dean's pad and one kangaroo in particular, named "King Billy", has formed a unique friendship with Dean.

King Billy was rescued 10 years ago from the devastating King Lake bushfires in Victoria. And although he was given a slow release back into the bush - he still calls in nightly for a snooze in front of the fire.

"Almost every night after dark, he scratches at the door," said Dean.

"He's become humanised and relaxed, he comes and goes of his own choice - he's a mate, he's good company," said Dean.

"A bit of company can be nice out here in the bush."

According to the Beckers, there had been "no trouble" between the neighbours - until recently.

Although they don't have any livestock aside from two pet goats, the Beckers applied for a permit to cull kangaroos as a "last resort" with roos costing them thousands of dollars in fencing.

"We've spent more than $6000 in boundary fences to keep them coming out of our yard," said Ron Becker.

"But they [kangaroos] just kept tearing them up. Every time we'd put up a brand new fence they'd do it all over again."

A spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) said they were unable to comment on single cases, but said it was policy that land managers exhaust all practical non-lethal options before applying for an Authority to Control Wildlife (ATCW) or lethal control.

"We'd spent years trying things out, scaring them, chasing them with motorbikes, firing shots in the air and even asking about electric fences - which a few of the farmers at Wangrabell said didn't really do any good," Ron said.

After applying for the ATCW permit last year, a DELWP forest and wildlife officer inspected the Beckers property and after seeing the damage, the permit to cull was granted.

The thought of his neighbours culling kangaroos has Dean terrified. And although the Beckers have assured Dean they would not shoot King Billy, he is still not at ease.

He has taken to social media expressing his frustrations with the situation and his small stirring has people around the area talking against the culling.

"I know I am being a pest," said Dean. "But I just don't understand how they have the permit to cull, not when they live next door to a wildlife carer and they don't have livestock."

Since receiving the permit, the Beckers have dug "the pit" required to dispose of the carcasses, but claim they haven't made use of it.

"We haven't killed a single kangaroo yet," said Fred Becker.

"We've always been peacemakers. At this stage we're still scaring them off by firing shots into the air. When they get to plague proportions then we might take a shot."

According to ACTW data released by DELWP there were 2849 permits granted in 2018, resulting in approximately 150,600 eastern greys culled.

"The Victorian government is committed to the conservation of Victoria's wildlife and has developed the Living with Wildlife Action Plan to ensure wildlife are secure and sustainably managed," a spokesperson for DELWP said.

"This plan aims to ensure that we can look after wildlife species while appropriately managing their impacts."