DANGER: Eric Bennett of Woolgoolga at the paddock where he was attacked by a roo. Photo: Trevor Veale
DANGER: Eric Bennett of Woolgoolga at the paddock where he was attacked by a roo. Photo: Trevor Veale Trevor Veale

Kangaroo attack tragedy tipped

IT SEEMS to be a summer of Australian stereotypes on the Coffs Coast this year.

In recent weeks, we've reported on a local surfer being bitten by a shark; a funnel web spider caught in a little girl's room; brown snake spottings; and a spate of kangaroo attacks.

While it is a normal part of life for those who live on the borders of urban sprawl, the coast and the bush to come across some of our more dangerous creatures, it is the spread of kangaroos into areas that they did not previously inhabit that has become a concern - and it's bringing the kangaroo cull debate back.

Eric Bennett, 89, of Woolgoolga, was attacked by a kangaroo on his property on Pullen St two years ago.

He had been working on his farm and didn't even see it coming.

"It came up to me side on and it attacked me - it ripped my shirt and trousers and knocked me to the ground," he said.

Eric considers himself lucky that he was attacked on the side.

"If it got me front on, I could have been disembowelled," he said.

There have been at least three incidents in the last few months where Eric has been approached by kangaroos again.

"They're not afraid of people," he says of the eastern grey kangaroos.

"Sometimes there are as many as 40 kangaroos out in my paddocks."

Eric's son George said that the kangaroo problem in the area is a new one.

"I lived in the area in the 1960s and there never used to be kangaroos there," he said.

"Humans have changed the environment, and now they're in places they didn't used to be in.

"We've taken away their natural predators and now there are more of them."

Both George and Eric said there needs to be a sensible, managed approach to kangaroo culling as the size and aggression of the kangaroo population in developed areas was now compromising safety.

"Roos can kick and claw and open someone up," George said. "We can't just keep our heads in the sand about it.

"We've got a situation of conflict where some people think they're wonderful, and others think they're a pest."

Eric is particularly concerned about children in the area.

"My neighbour has a four-year-old little girl," he said. "What if a kangaroo gets her?"

In October, The Coffs Coast Advocate reported on a kangaroo attack on a three-year-old on the Northern Beaches.

Sooner or later, there will be a tragedy, Eric predicted. "It's a matter of time."

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