Warning Issued Over Aggressive 'Roos
--CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australians living in the nation's drought-ravaged capital were warned on Wednesday to keep their distance from aggressive kangaroos after the iconic marsupials attacked one woman and killed a pet dog.
Eastern Gray kangaroos, which can grow to more than 5 1/2 feet tall and weigh more than 150 pounds, have started moving out of the parched bush into inner Canberra suburbs during the day to look for grass and water, increasing their contact with people.
A senior wildlife ecologist with Environment ACT, Murray Evans, said the kangaroos could pose a threat to people and dogs, with one woman savaged by a large kangaroo as she was walking her small, pet dog in a paddock last week.
"Her dog went near the kangaroo and she followed and before she knew it the kangaroo lashed out, scratching her down the side of her body," Evans told Reuters.
Another woman told how a kangaroo drowned one of the four dogs she was walking with a friend, attacking it in a pond and holding it under the water with its hind legs while it hit out at one of the other dogs with its front legs.
"My friend started shouting: 'There's a kangaroo in the pond. It's got Summer'. It was surreal, like your worst nightmare," Christine Canham told the Canberra Times newspaper.
"She was screaming and screaming. The kangaroo just stared back at us. I will never forget that."
Evans said it was not unusual for kangaroos to flee into water if they felt under threat and, as a last defense, they would try to drown their predator with their powerful hind legs.
He said most of the behavioral change in the usually placid animals was due to the scarcity of feed after a run of dry years in Canberra, the inland bush capital, as Australia battles its worst drought in a century.