Is It Legal To Punch A Kangaroo?

Is it legal to punch a kangaroo in self-defence?Image: Supplied

A video of a man punching a kangaroo has gone viral. To be fair, the bloke was trying to save his dog, but considering the RSPCA is investigating the matter, we can only assume people raised concerns about animal cruelty. Which begs the question: is it legal to punch a kangaroo, even if it’s in self-defence? Read on to find out.

Kangaroos are a protected species in Australia but shooters can obtain licences to kill them (with restrictions) in areas where they are considered pests. Permission to cull kangaroos in large numbers can also be granted by the government and is strictly regulated.

While they're much loved as Australia's national animal and are generally considered harmless, kangaroos have the ability to disembowel their opponents thanks to a pair of powerful hind legs that sport sharp toenails. They have been known to kill dogs and hurt humans but these are not common occurrences.

This week, a video of a man punching a kangaroo in the face to save his dog has emerged and has since gone viral:

Undoubtedly it's an amusing video but some people may view the action as cruel.

Lifehacker Australia talked to an RSPCA spokesperson about the video itself and was informed that the organisation is already investigating the incident.

The definition of "cruelty" according to animal legislation in each state is the roughly described as causing pain that is "unjustifiable, unnecessary or unreasonable in the circumstances". Obviously, that includes physically harming the animal.

There is no national legislation that applies to animal cruelty but there are defined laws in each state that address the issue with possible fines and jail terms. The RSPCA breaks them down here for each state.

In every state, cruelty against animals is illegal so punching a kangaroo willy-nilly is definitely not allowed. If you are punching a kangaroo in self-defence and end up being taken to court over it, you may be granted an exception but you'll need to show the magistrate that your action was reasonable and necessary. (Note: Someone rightly pointed out that it's up to the prosecution to prove that your action was unreasonable and unnecessary. Obviously you'll still need to defend against that if it really was in self-defence.)

What To Do If You Are Threatened Or Attacked By A Kangaroo?

In the heat of the moment, when you're trying to defend yourself or your pet against a kangaroo attack, it might seem like a good idea to just fight the animal. But you could be jeopardising your own safety (again, sharp toenails used to disembowel opponents…) and, if you can't prove it was for self-defence, you could end up in legal trouble.

According to the Office of Environment & Heritage: "A kangaroo will attack a person as if they were another kangaroo. It may push or grapple with its forepaws or sit back and kick out with its hind legs. As resulting injuries can be serious, avoiding conflict with kangaroos is vital."

If you feel threatened by a kangaroo, the government agency recommends that you to avoid attracting its attention and keep your head and arms low:

"Wait until the kangaroo has moved away before continuing on your way. If you need to, carefully retreat in a crouched or crawling position to a safe location or distance away. If you can, position an object such as a tree or fence between you and the kangaroo and call for help. Alert your helper to the potential danger.

"If you are attacked, drop to the ground and curl into a ball with your hands protecting your face and throat. Try to remain calm and still until the animal moves away, or if you can, keep low to the ground and move behind some form of cover."

Did you just catch yourself wondering if something was legal or not? Let us know and we may be able to answer it in our next Is It Legal? feature.


Comments

    according to daily mail, the guy is healthy and well and doing interviews
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4000266/Kangaroo-puncher-animal-lover-family-man.html

      Hi there!

      The RSPCA spokesperson did say to us that the guy had passed away but since it has been disputed, I've taken that line out. The spokesperson might have been mistaken.

      Cheers!

        You would have seen this elsewhere by now, but the trip was for a child dieing of cancer. They passed away last week, which may have led to the confusion about someone dieing.

        I've watched that video a few times now, and cant see how it was unreasonable. It wasnt close to a killing attack by the person, they were just separating the roo and the dog, which they did by getting the roo's attention.

        If thats deemed unreasonable, our nanny state laws have gone too far. They were defending the dog, so what laws cover them NOT doing anything, and putting the dog potentially allowing serious harm or death to that animal?

        If they were in a no win situation, where its either the roo or the dog, they did the right thing.

          the nut jobs at PETA are having a field day on facebook about this too.

            For some reason, this whole crap has really pissed me off. The PETA and RSPCA stuff that is.

            I ask one simple question. In the situation, what do they consider reasonable? If the dog isnt separated from the roo, and ripped to shreds, PETA and the RSPCA have a field day for that as well, so again, what do they consider reasonable?

            In no way was any harm done to the roo. That alone says what he did was reasonable, given they were on a pig hunt and would have been armed with more than one gun capable of downing the roo.

            The whole zero tolerance mentality of PETA and their supporters is the core reason I cant get behind them in any way.

              i know, a bunch of religious fanatics with no little logic flowing between their ears.

                If anything PETA members are akin to atheists. Because they are ceasing to practice cruel, barbaric and harmful traditions.

                And the reasons why are based on logic and compassion. Something that cannot be said for any religion.

                  no. I disagree. the bullshit they were sprouting on their facebook page, made them look like holier than thou, soapbox assholes. its clear if you watch the video the kangaroo was advancing on the guy, if he hadn't of done something, he could have ended up seriously injured. they could have chosen to shoot the roo, but they didn't. they could have chosen to hunt roos with dogs and hand clubs, but that's not what evidence was shown in the video.
                  next time you are getting ready to defend yourself from a potentially seriously harmful animal, please drop your guard and give it a hug, or turn you back on it if that's what your nerves inspire you to do in the spur of the moment. but don't go throwing yourself in with those misguided do-gooders. use logic, and a case by case examination.

              "In no way was any harm done" Mate, next time you're defending against a dog that wants to tear you up, and then someone punches you in the face for it, will you feel be saying: "In no way was any harm done" .

              People get serious injuries from one punch to the face, from broken cheeks, jaws and eye sockets. Permanent vision impairment or loss, brain damage, and even death. We can assume that a kangaroo is capable of being damaged the same way as a human, perhaps more because of it's smaller head.

                dude, roos get hit by cars, fuck the cars up and then keep on going. pretty sure a punch in the side of the head isn't going to cause that precious national treasure any grief. where were you when Mick Fanning punched the shark, sticking with the same argument I hope.

      The gofundme update says he passed on 12/1. I hope you are right, that he is alive and fighting the battle.

    Perhaps the question should be "is it necessary" rather than "is it legal" (although it seems from the article that the legal standpoint may ask this very question). I appreciate that the guy was trying to help this dog, but he'd already distracted the kangaroo enough to get it to let the dog go. At that point he could have easily just backed away. Both he and the kangaroo were just standing there, the kangaroo gave no hint of aggression.

    And before the inevitable "heat of the moment" comments, just think about whether that argument would apply if the kangaroo had been another person. Legally, a court would treat this as what we now call a "coward punch". Everyone is saying how badass or brave this guy is; I applaud his efforts to defend his dog, but he punch was unnecessary.

    Last edited 05/12/16 5:37 pm

      Mate, you are absolutely clueless, do you even know how fast they can move? you would turn your back on a animal that is ready to fight/charge? you honestly think you can out run a roo? I hope you did not get a uni education as I would as for your money back from teaching you absolutely NOTHING about life and the world. why is it the current and last generations are absolute idiots.......

        do you even know how fast they can move? you would turn your back on a animal that is ready to fight/charge? you honestly think you can out run a roo?

        All the more reason not to antagonise it? It's let go of the dog already, just back away.

        you would turn your back on a animal that is ready to fight/charge?

        No. I said "backed away".

        I hope you did not get a uni education as I would as for your money back from teaching you absolutely NOTHING about life and the world.

        Did you? Are you aware of what gets taught at uni? I must admit if there was a "how to conduct yourself during a confrontation with a kangaroo" module, I missed it.

        why is it the current and last generations are absolute idiots.......

        Why are you making assumptions about my generation? You have no idea how old I am or what generation I am. Further, how is my comment a reflection of my entire generation, whichever generation that happens to be? Am I, for example, to infer that all of your generation is incapable of reading a comment in its entirety before responding to it? Or that your generation are all incapable of using correct capitalisation, or understanding the elipsis, purely based on the ignorance you are displaying in your comment? No. That would be ridiculous.

        Last edited 06/12/16 9:39 am

      I disagree. The roo had already been aggressive and was bouncing towards him when he punched. If it were a person he would have been completely justified.

      in that situation i might have taken the same stance, even the article says how they can attack a person as if they were a kangaroo and it really looked like it was ready to fight until he gave it a poke.

      Totally disagree drcollossus. You just have to watch the video over and over and see it's blatantly obvious the punch was out of self defence. You can clearly see as the man got there, the roo let go of the dog and advanced at him. So yeah, all of a sudden your faced with danger, a large animal that is known to throw a strong devastating kick or whatnot, and then your fight or flight response kicks in? Run or fight. So in this case, he fought. I mean once again, isn't that obvious enough? Like he literally had the time to contemplate the wonders of the universe and whether it's moral to hit a roo when your adrenalin is pumping, Anxiety levels at a high and you're primal instincts go into overdrive?

      1 - The Roo was reared up ready to go.
      2 - Old mate didn't put his hands up until the kangaroo shifted its focus to him and moved forward
      3 - A cowards punch is being blind sided or an unexpected attack.

      His defence was reasonable and within his rights to do so. It's a non issue and only the fools who live safely in the city hiding behind their keyboards are upset about this.

        For what its worth, this fool living safely in the city behind my keyboard isnt upset about this.

        I think what he did was perfectly acceptable. In no way did it create a risk of harm to the 'roo, and if anything reduced the chance of injury. It had what was apparently a well trained dog in a headlock for crying out loud, what happens if it lets go?

        Or worse, if it doesnt? Was the guy meant to simply sacrifice the dog to keep armchair warriors happy? Give me a break.

        I'm with you, only fools are upset over this.

    ...and are generally considered harmless...The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy has just been updated to read 'Mostly harmless'.

    Let's look at the facts!
    1: Kangaroo is holding dog (not hurting it)
    2: Bogan approaches roo to claim dog and roo releases dog.
    3: Dog is unharmed
    4: Bogan could have easily walked away but he has to prove he is a Bogan by punching the roo in the head which was totally unnecessary & cruel.
    I love dogs and I'm glad the dog is unharmed but the Bogan who owns the dog has confessed it is a hunting dog which Bogan sends hunting for wild boar.
    So...roo was minding it's own business when dog chases roo to catch it except roo caught dog. Roo didn't harm the dog or the Bogan.
    Then Bogan as in complete bogan mentality, punches first and thinks...? (that might be too generous) later.
    Bogan needs to be charged with cruelty.

      RespectForNature, WATCH what the roo does as said Bogan approaches. The roo tries to disembowel the dog, which means your 1st point is incorrect. The roo was holding the dog and did not let go UNTIL his said Bogan owner appraoched. Point 2 is OK. Point 3 is irrelevant in view of the following, the roo then moves towards the said Bogan so he retaliates with a punch. Not sure if you have petted tame smaller versions of these animals but they're very very strong. This roo could easlity send this said Bogan to hospital with torn open stomach and busted bones. Punching the roo is like slapping a human, no real damage done, just a wake up call.
      RespectForNature needs to be charged with being irrational and oversensitive.

        +1 Roos are solid muscle. those things bounce away after being hit by cars and leave awful damage. much more mass in a car hitting a roo, than a human fist. i agree, definitely the equivalent of a slap.

      If you read what kangaroo experts have said after viewing the video, the kangaroo was sizing him up before possibly attacking which is very common when two male kangaroos meet up. He snuck in a punch while the kangaroo was still in the 'sizing up' part.
      Or you can just watch the video and see the kangaroo approach him and rear up which is pretty clear.

      Bogan could have gutted roo with knife. You ar e a MORON!!

    I could see animal cruelty charges IF and ONLY IF he continued to attack the Roo, if he popped it once in the face and backed away then it was self defense and everyone can go back to bed.

    It's easy to deconstruct and analyse a situation after the fact, especially when we have video footage, but the fact is that at the time the guy felt it was a necessary tactic to defend himself & prevent a possibly harmful, if not fatal situation. I feel that's a justifiable spur-of-the-moment call and one that deserves no penalty. Everyone came out alive and unharmed, lessons were learned, and life continues.

    Fact is, the animal wasn't truly harmed at all. If anything it was mildly stunned. It bounced away to realise it had tussled with the wrong biped and will likely/hopefully be a little more cautious in the future, but live a long, healthy life... if it can escape the culls.

    Anyone who feels the roo was unnecessarily and perpetually harmed and the guy should be punished simply doesn't fully grasp, or are unwilling to consider the nuances of the situation. Wild animals are unpredictable and dangerous. That's why they're categorised as 'wild.'

    I thought the guys actions were justified. The kangaroo was attacking the dog and the owner had NO idea what the roo's intentions were. When the owner separated the kangaroo from the dog, the roo clearly advanced toward the guy and squared off with him. The dog owner sensed the kangaroos aggression and threw a preemptive short right (just one!) which was merely a message to the roo since the roo was clearly not harmed from the strike. So I really don't see what the big deal was.

      Totally not justified - the dog wasn't being attacked by the kangaroo. The kangaroo was defending itself against multiple aggressive hunting dogs.

      It's illegal to harass wildlife with dogs. This guy is some rambo wannabe - look at the knife strapped to his belt.

    Actually this isn't correct, the onus remains on the prosecution to prove that the conduct was unreasonable/unnecessary etc not the individual person.

    Just if you want to be accurate about it. Who is the author, do they have a law degree?

      Not a lawyer but I've referred to publicly available legal resources (links in article) and I seek advice from experts when possible. You're right, though. In criminal cases, the burden of proof is on the prosecution so I've made a note of that in the article.

      Hope that helps!
      Spandas

    You spelled defense wrong. Twice.

      ... I'm sorry, but were you referring to the fact that I've used the Australian spelling for "defense"? (Which is "defence")

      Defence and defense are different spellings of the same word; yet belong to different forms of the English language. Defense is used in American English, and defence is used in British English, which spans Australian and Canadian English. It is important to maintain spelling consistency within a piece of writing.

      regards from spellcheckonline.com

      Last edited 07/12/16 2:59 pm

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