Drought pushes Australian farmers to brink as they are given licence to kill kangaroos
Australia's most populous state has been declared entirely in drought - and farmers have been given authority to shoot kangaroos competing with livestock for sparse pasture during the most intense dry spell in more than 50 years.
Much of Australia's southeast is struggling but the state government said 100pc of New South Wales' more than 800,000 square kilometres was in drought.
Primary industries minister Niall Blair said farmers were enduring one of the driest winters on record.
Farmers are having to decide whether to continue the expensive and laborious task of hand-feeding cattle and sheep or sell their livestock.
The requirement to tag dead kangaroos to keep a tally of the number shot across the state had been dispensed with.
"Many farmers are taking livestock off their paddocks, only to then see kangaroos move in and take whatever is left," Mr Blair said.
"If we don't manage this situation, we will start to see tens of thousands of kangaroos starving and suffering, ultimately leading to a major animal welfare crisis."
But Ray Borda, president of the Kangaroo Industries Association of Australia, which represents commercial hunters who hunt kangaroos for meat and leather, raised animal welfare concerns about the regulation changes.
"Anybody on the land that will make a phone call to the Department of Environment can get permission to shoot almost whatever they want and it's unaudited and unchecked and that's our concern - animal welfare," Mr Borda said.
The government should have subsidised professional hunters to reduce kangaroo numbers more humanely, he said.
"This is probably the worst possible outcome for the kangaroo, but we do understand the plight farmers are in," Mr Borda added.