CANBERRA: Animal welfare concerns have been raised after farmers in Australia's most populous state were allowed to shoot kangaroos in order to keep them from starving to death.
A crippling drought is ravaging vast tracts of Australia's pastoral heartlands, decimating herds and putting desperate farmers under intense financial and emotional strain, with little relief in sight.
A drier-than-expected June and July has left many farmers with failing crops, a short supply of water and diminishing livestock feed.
There have been reports of farmers shooting cattle and hand-feeding animals because the ground is too dry for grass to grow.More news: Malaysia's Najib pleads not guilty to money laundering as charges pile up
The state government said on Wednesday that 100 per cent of New South Wales' land area of more than 800,000 square kilometres was now in drought. "There isn't a person in the state that isn't hoping to see some rain for our farmers and regional communities", he said. "They are shooting them because they just can't afford to feed them any more", said Ms Tash Johnston, co-founder of charity Drought Angels.
The Bureau of Meteorology's latest climate outlook for the next three months is predicting high chances of warmer and drier conditions over the drought-affected regions.
The current drought on the continent extends beyond North South Wales, with over half of the neighboring state of Queensland also in drought, the BBC reported.
The brown surrounds at the O'Brien farm echoes the experience of many other NSW farmers.More news: Dolphins receivers Stills, Wilson kneel during anthem
In a joint statement, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud, said: "We will stand with Australia's farming families every step of the way as they cope with this devastating drought: listening, caring, responding and delivering".
The federal and NSW state governments are providing more than A$1.5 billion (S$1.52 billion) in drought relief packages, created to offset the cost of feed and freight, and increase access to mental health services for farmers feeling the strain.
This aerial photo shows cattle on a dry paddock in the drought-hit area of Quirindi in New South Wales.More news: Everton Complete Double Swoop for Barcelona’s Mina & Gomes
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