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Kangaroos as Dinner: Decision Draws Fire

The article "Letter from Sydney - Aussies Are Hopping Mad About 'Roos," July 30, omits some significant facts about Australia's treatment of the kangaroo. New South Wales is yet another state to permit the sale of kangaroo meat for human consumption. This creates another economic incentive for hunters cruelly to slaughter over 20,000 kangaroos, including juveniles and infants, every night.

This year the Australian government is permitting nearly 5 million to be slaughtered for the growing kangaroo meat and skin market.

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The killing of Australia's kangaroos is now the largest wildlife slaughter of any vertebrate species in the world. The three large species of kangaroos are on the United States Threatened Species List. However, under pressure from the Australian government, the Interior Department has proposed that they be removed from the List. Conservationists consider this irresponsible proposal a litmus test for Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt as to whether he will uphold the promises of the Clinton administr ation to protect these unique animals, which have been killed for the financial benefit of the kangaroo industry, and of ranchers and farmers who unjustly regard kangaroos as vermin.

Thus far, the Australian government has refused to take measures to protect kangaroos. The time is long overdue for other countries to boycott all kangaroo products and place these animals on their own protected lists of threatened and endangered species. It is a tragedy that this country permits the brutal killing of the very animal it regards as its symbol. Marian Newman Washington International Wildlife Coalition

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please fax letters to (617) 450-2317 or mail them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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