Kangaroo attacks at Morisset prompt calls for action
2nd May 2018
Source: Newcastle Herald | By: Helen Gregory | Posted: May 1, 2018
SIGNS in multiple languages warning that kangaroos can cause injuries and shouldn't be fed should be installed at what has become a tourist hotspot in the grounds of Morisset Hospital, according to Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper.
Mr Piper delivered a Private Member's Statement to State Parliament on Tuesday night, calling for Hunter New England Health, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and possibly Lake Macquarie City Council to develop a co-ordinated response to the "tourist phenomenon" within the borders of the specialist psychiatric hospital.
Visiting the kangaroos is advertised as a cheap and highly recommended day trip online.
"We will not stop people from visiting these kangaroos,” Mr Piper said.
"That joey has left the pouch, so as to speak, and the only thing we can do is to educate people about the dangers and find a way of managing the situation, not just for the safety of visitors and the hospital’s residents, but also for the kangaroos themselves.
"There has been a number of reported incidents where kangaroos have attacked visitors, in one case causing a very deep gash to a man’s stomach but in most cases kicking out, clawing faces and grappling people causing lacerations or significant scratching.
"A [recently attacked] man required 17 stitches in his face."
Kroosn Shuttle Service owner Shane Lewis, who takes up to 500 people a week between Morisset railway station and the site, said he had seen countless attacks.
He said he used a translation app when necessary to explain to his passengers – which include tourists of different nationalities, backpackers and daytrippers – not to feed the wild kangaroos, that they can be aggressive near food, not to go near the hospital buildings and that there are no toilets or shops at the site.
He asks passengers who have brought food – including one who had 10 kilograms of carrots – to leave it on the bus.
But he said an additional 1000 people each week used other forms of transport to visit.
"They don't get any information like ours," he said.
"We want to be part of the solution.
"If we see them feeding the roos we confront them and ask did they see the [existing] signs and they say no.
"You tell them the animals can be aggressive but they think it's humorous, like the boxing kangaroo."
Both men said many tourists began the 4.5 kilometre journey between the station and the site without knowing the length of the walk, that there was no water or toilets or that it was a health facility.
Mr Piper said improved directional signage was needed, as was a greater NPWS ranger presence.
Mr Lewis would also like signs about penalties for feeding the animals and warnings to visitors to take rubbish with them.
Mr Lewis said he preferred tourists to those who visited the site to deliberately harm the animals.
The Herald has previously reported that kangaroos were shot with arrows in June 2017 and August 2015.
Website: Read full story