A wallaby is fighting for its life after being shot with an arrow and left for dead, an act described by animal rights campaigners as “deliberate” and “cruel”.
The young Bennett’s wallaby was on private property at Pelverata, east of Huonville in southern Tasmania, and is currently being treated for a severe infection.
Wildlife carer Teena Hanslow, who is treating the animal, said it was heavily sedated and receiving antibiotics.
Ms Hanslow previously cared for the wallaby when it was a joey when its mother was killed by a vehicle.
She was named Carley and was successfully re-released a year ago into the bush where she thrived, having joined a mob.
Based on the severity of the infection from the arrow wound, Carley is thought to have been shot days prior to being discovered by rescuers on Thursday with the arrow still lodged in it.
Animal Liberation Tasmania spokesperson Kristy Alger said it was shot deliberately.
“It was done on purpose. A shot of this nature, someone going out onto a property in the middle of the bush with a bow and arrow — they’re not going out there to shoot trees,” she said.
“They’re going out there to inflict cruelty to animals.”
Greg Irons, director of Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, agreed, calling it “a disgrace”.
“Someone deciding to shoot a wallaby with a bow and arrow, knowing the accuracy simply isn’t going to be there, it’s a disgrace,” he said.
“Animal cruelty is the one thing that makes our blood boil.
“We work so hard to try and save so many animals from so many things, and then for people to be deliberately hurting them under the name of sport, it’s just unbelievably disappointing.”
‘Wallaby endured injury for days’
Ms Alger said the wallaby was shot by a target practice arrow, as opposed to a hunting arrow, so it was more likely to maim the animal than kill it.
“With a hunting arrow, it will have a head on it that will actually tear a hole through the animal that won’t be closed by the arrow shaft and the animal will bleed out”, she said.
“[A target practice arrow] is a much crueller way to die. This wallaby endured this injury for days. He would have eventually died from infection, dehydration or starvation.”
Mr Irons said there was no excuse for shooting animals by bow and arrow.
“It’s something that you know is obviously not going to be as clean and as quick as other potential methods, so there is no reason to potentially do that besides doing it under the name of some sort of sport,” he said.
‘This case is not an isolated incident’
The shooting of this wallaby follows a pademelon being put down in January after being shot in the leg by an arrow.
Ms Hanslow said as a wildlife rescuer, she sees too many cases of injury caused by arrows.
“This one is not an isolated incident,” she said.
Mr Irons said though it was difficult to gauge if the number of wildlife being injured by arrows was increasing, Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary had seen four cases in the past 12 months.
He said that may just be the tip of the iceberg.
“For every one that we see, that’s going to be only a percentage of the animals that this is actually happening to,” he said.
Ms Alger said there may be an increase in arrow-related wildlife injuries.
“There have been reports of, I wouldn’t say significant numbers, but a number of wallabies down south in the same area as this particular wallaby with arrow wounds, so it does seem like there’s an increase in this sort of activity,” she said.
‘Bows and arrows need to be regulated like guns’
According to the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment’s website, the use of a bow and arrow for hunting any species is prohibited, but Ms Hanslow said there was confusion in the community.
“It’s a real grey area,” she said.
“Really, Tassie just does not give a damn about wildlife.”
She suggested better regulation would help prevent animals suffering from injuries caused by arrows.
“Bow and arrows need to be registered, just like guns. The laws around this just aren’t strong enough,” she said.
“I have had to euthanase so many animals that have been shot in the face or the paw.
“People should be made to do mandatory target practice.”
Silent treatment over animal shootings
Mr Irons said friends “egg each other on” to shoot animals, but because no one confesses to seeing anything the crimes go unpunished.
“At the end of the day, if someone knows who did that and doesn’t speak up, they may as well have done it themselves,” he said.
Ms Alger said a community united in anger could help create legislative change.
“People are outraged and, funnily enough, it’s one of those situations that unites a broad section of the community, even liberationists with hunters,” she said.
“A huge number of people in the community … are absolutely appalled that this animal would have been subjected to such a horrific injury.”
Image credit: Teena Hanslow
This article was written as part of my employment with the ABC. It was published 3/6/18. It’s available here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-03/tas-wallaby-fighting-for-life-after-being-shot-with-an-arrow/9829522