Drought in southeast Australia worsens

Drought pushes Australian farmers to brink as they are given licence to kill kangaroos

Kangaroos killing permitted after Australian state switches to survival mode

Mr Lee, a member of Farmers for Climate Action, wants the federal and state governments to accept that reality and come up with a plan to help farmers adjust to a warming environment.

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.

With no feed, farmers have been forced to ship in grain or hay from other parts of the country to keep sheep and cattle alive, spending thousands of extra dollars a week just to stay afloat. Farm reservoirs have dried up and crops are failing.

"Many farmers are taking livestock off their paddocks, only to then see kangaroos move in a take whatever is left", Blair said.

But Ray Borda, president of the Kangaroo Industries Association of Australia, which represents commercial hunters who hunt kangaroos for meat and leather, raised animal welfare concerns about the regulation changes.

"Anybody on the land that will make a phone call to the Department of Environment can get permission to shoot nearly whatever they want to shoot and it's unaudited and unchecked and that's our concern - animal welfare", Borda told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

The government should have subsidised professional hunters to reduce kangaroo numbers more humanely, he said.

In some regions, water restrictions have been tightened to the point that residents can only do a maximum of two loads of washing a week and take three-minute showers.

There was also cash for counselling and mental health services, with drought-related stress and even suicide a mounting concern, compounded by the isolation many feel on their remote properties.

The department says southern Australia has seen "significant drying", particularly from April to October.

Though Australia has long suffered from spells of drought, other parts of the world are now experiencing extreme weather which experts say is evidence of the Earth's changing climate.

Conditions are similarly dire in Queensland to the north, where the state government says almost 60 percent of land is suffering drought conditions.

New South Wales is suffering the worst drought in more than 50 years, with farmers among the hardest hit.

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