Citizen Scientists Counting Kangaroos At Nelson Bay Golf Course

Kangaroos on the fairway at Nelson Bay Golf Club.

 

NELSON Bay Golf Club is renowned for the great 27 hole course and for some of its resident kangaroos.

In fact the course and its resident kangaroo population are part of a university study.

The study involves citizen scientists in population counts, and until COVID-19 hit, included regular tours for tourists run by volunteers.

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The program is headed up by Phil Murray who is known locally as ‘Kangaroo Phil’.

Kangaroo Phil told News Of The Area, “In terms of the tourism aspect we have been closed since March last year due to COVID.”

The Kangaroo Tours cater to tourists from everywhere, international and domestic.

With the tours generally operated by volunteers who are older, the program closed as the tour guides fell into a high risk group for COVID-19.

Since the tours began there have been over 1000 tours that have raised over $70,000.

The volunteers conduct a kangaroo count every three months.

In 2012, there were 220 eastern grey kangaroos on the course.

That population now sits at 40.

Kangaroo Phil isn’t concerned with the drop in numbers, “It’s a dynamic population which moves in and out of the National Park.”

These kangaroos are living in a peri-urban environment.

Just like our koala population, road trauma is one of the biggests risks for our kangaroos.

Kangaroo Phil has appealed to Council for kangaroo signage to be installed up and down Dowling St, as the mob often crosses at the crest where unfortunately this is also the most dangerous stretch of road adjacent to the golf course.

Most don’t know it but there is a freezer on the golf course where any kangaroos who have died on the road or course are stored and are later analysed under autopsy by the university.

Kangaroos live in a hierarchical population so if you see two kangaroos having a bit of a scuffle it is usually the males who test each other to see where they sit in hierarchy.

The aim of the program which monitors the kangaroos on the golf course is to ensure an ongoing population in a balance that doesn’t interfere with golfers and that the golfers don’t interfere with the kangaroos.

 

By Marian SAMPSON

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