Criminal Law News & Current Affairs

By Ben Aulich & Associates Ben Aulich & Associates


Identity of kangaroo shooter handed to cull activists

The identity of a kangaroo shooter has been accidentally handed to an anti-cull activist, breaching the usual government secrecy designed to keep them safe.

The names of the contracted professional shooters are often kept under close wraps by the ACT government, for fear they will be personally targeted by animal rights campaigners.

The secrecy is to protect them and their families from the possibility of threats, vandalism, or violence.

But a mistake has seen the name of one of the professional shooters – as well as the names of the heads of the cull operation, drivers, and security team members – to an activist.

That occurred when Christiaan Theodorik Klootwijk, 70, was charged by police for blowing a whistle and hindering the head of the cull operation in doing his job.

The list of names was handed to Klootwijk in police documents, served on him as part of the criminal proceedings.

Klootwijk was at the Wanniassa Hills reserve site earlier this month, and was allegedly heard blowing his whistle near the boundary of the cull site.

Police allege he was making noise to frighten the kangaroos and make it difficult for shooters to hit them.

He has been charged with one count of hindering a public official in exercising his duty, and has pleaded not guilty.

Care is typically taken to suppress names during other court proceedings, including, for example, when protesters have previously launched action to stop the cull in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The privacy breach was not realised by the government until Fairfax Media approached the Territory and Municipal Services Directorate for comment on Friday.

A directorate spokeswoman said they were “working to ensure” the information wasn’t made publicly available.

She said generally the government took care with the identities of cull shooters to protect them and their families.

“Territory and Municipal Services does not release the names of individual staff and contractors working on the kangaroo conservation cull to protect their personal safety and the safety of their family and personal property,” she said.

The annual cull has already ceased this year.

The cull aims to conserve local habitats and ecosystems by managing kangaroo populations. Roughly 11,000 kangaroos have been killed since 2009.

This year, about 1690 adult eastern grey kangaroos and 701 joeys were killed on a number of nature reserves across the ACT.

Protesters say they have been at every reserve site, every night, in an attempt to disrupt the cull.

Klootwijk had been previously warned about using loudspeakers near the reserve site, before he was arrested on Wednesday, July 1, for using the whistle, police say.

He is set to fight the charge at a hearing in the ACT Magistrates Court, represented by Peter Woodhouse of Ben Aulich & Associates.

That hearing is not expected to take place until February.
Credit: Christopher Knaus, Canberra Times