A kangaroo drinks from a water tank located in a drought-affected paddock on farmer Ash Whitney's property, located west of the town of Gunnedah in north-western New South Wales, in Australia, 3 June 2018. Photo: David Gray / REUTERS

By Jessie Yeung
8 August 2018

(CNN) – Australia relaxed rules about shooting kangaroos in New South Wales (NSW) Wednesday as the state was declared "100 percent in drought" after months of little or no rain.

Less than 10 millimeters of rain fell in the state in July, the fifth-driest on record, putting further pressure on dwindling food supplies for cattle that can no longer graze on parched land.

"This is tough, there isn't a person in the state that isn't hoping to see some rain for our farmers and regional communities," Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said in a statement.

Large numbers of kangaroos have been competing with cattle for food and water, a situation Blair said must be turned around "as soon as possible."

"Many farmers are taking livestock off their paddocks, only to then see kangaroos move in and take whatever is left — this is the last thing any farmer needs at the moment," Blair said.

“If we don’t manage this situation, we will start to see tens of thousands of kangaroos starving and suffering, ultimately leading to a major animal welfare crisis.” [Thirsty cows swarm water truck as Australia’s drought rages on –Des]

The new rules will increase culling quotas and more shooters to operate under a single license, a government press release states.

Australia has long dealt with harsh, dry conditions, especially inland, away from coastal areas popular with tourists. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said earlier this week conditions were so bad that the country had to accept it was a "land of drought and flooding rains."

The drought may be Australia's worst in 400 years, according to a recent University of Melbourne study, which reconstructed 800 years of seasonal patterns.

The drought has hit farmers particularly hard, with crop, water, and fodder shortages putting their livelihoods at risk. Unable to feed their livestock, many have been forced to sell or slaughter stock, sending the cattle industry into a decline that could take years to recover.

Others have had to bulldoze orchards or lose their farms, leaving entire families without income, according to Australian media. [more]

Australia relaxes kangaroo protections as New South Wales battles drought

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