Police investigate series of arrow attacks on kangaroos in Melbourne's north

Updated June 26, 2019 13:00:29

One injured kangaroo treated by vets was released back into the wild.Video: One injured kangaroo treated by vets was released back into the wild. (Sports Unisda News)

A wildlife rescuer has called for more restrictions on the sale of bows and arrows after a number of kangaroos were shot in Melbourne's north, prompting a police investigation.

Key points:

  • One kangaroo was found dead, another had to be euthanased and her joey died, and a third was saved by vets
  • Police are concerned the perpetrator may be using an illegal crossbow and have appealed to the public for information
  • Most arrow attacks do not kill kangaroos immediately, so the animals suffer for long periods in pain

Five Freedoms Animal Rescue volunteer Manfred Zabinskas said he had seen an increase in the number of kangaroos being shot with arrows in the 10 years he has been involved in wildlife rescues.

"It seems to be increasing annually," he said.

"There's no restrictions on bows and arrows. You need a permit for a slingshot but anybody can go to the sports store and buy a bow and arrow without any restrictions whatsoever.

"We really need legislation change to make it more difficult for people to have these weapons."

Police investigating 'connected' attacks

Victoria Police are investigating three animal cruelty attacks in the Mickleham and Greenvale areas — in Melbourne's outer north — since May.

The first incident involved a kangaroo found dead with an arrow in its torso on a Mt Ridley Road property in Mickleham.

Mr Zabinskas was called out to the other two attacks which occurred in nearby Greenvale on June 1 and 2.

In the first case, a female kangaroo was shot in the chest with an arrow, resulting in the wound becoming so infected she had to be euthanased.

Her young joey also died.

"The position of the arrow was such that she was unable to get her head into the pouch and tend to her joey so her joey wasn't being cleaned," Mr Zabinskas said.

"In her condition she probably wouldn't have been producing good milk anymore so the joey was in quite poor condition."

While rescuers were in the process of trying to help that kangaroo they found a male kangaroo with an arrow through its rump.

The kangaroo, later named Fletch, was treated by veterinarians at the Melbourne Zoo and he was able to be saved.

"We were lucky, mainly because just by chance, his wound appeared to be very, very recent. The vets think perhaps within 24 hours of us capturing him," Mr Zabinskas said.

Fletch was released back into the wild after spending 15 days in care.

Illegal crossbows may have been used

Victoria Police's Senior Sergeant Brad Towers said all three incidents may be connected.

He warned kangaroos were a protected species and police were confident they would find the perpetrators.

"It's an animal cruelty case," he said.

"At least one [kangaroo] has died a slow and painful death."

He said police were also concerned about the site of the attacks.

"These locations are right on the edge of the suburban area," he said.

"We're also concerned that the arrows themselves could either be used by a compound bow but they could also be used by a crossbow."

Compound bows are legal to possess and are used in archery competitions.

Crossbows are illegal weapons.

Animals suffering in 'massive' pain

Mr Zabinskas said animals who were shot with arrows faced particularly cruel injuries.

"An attack with bows and arrows or crossbows often lead to severe injury without causing death," he said.

"So we've got these animals that are in massive pain and they're not easy to catch.

"It's only because there's a number of us that now have the luxury of access to tranquiliser guns that were able to catch these animals. Ten years ago none of these animals would be saved."

He urged anyone with information to contact police.

"In the 10 years that I've been involved I only know of two perpetrators that have actually been caught and prosecuted," he said.

"It would be lovely to know that we can catch more of these people."

Police have asked the public to call 000 immediately if they see anyone carrying weapons in the area.

Anyone with information about the attacks can contact Crime Stoppers on 1300 333 000.

Topics: animals, animal-welfare, law-crime-and-justice, melbourne-3000, mickleham-3064, greenvale-3059

First posted June 26, 2019 11:57:49