DARYL West did not want to have to take a rifle and shoot the last of the animals from the former Oz.e Wildlife sanctuary.
But he felt he had no choice.
One by one, Mr West shot and killed two emus, seven wallabies and seven eastern grey kangaroos at the weekend.
“It’s a hard thing to do,” he said. “But the last few animals we had were just unplaceable. What can you do?”
The Lavington father and the only remaining member of the Friends of Ettamogah management committee was on the end of a shovel at the sanctuary yesterday morning.
He had been trying to get rid of the thistles and Paterson’s curse that have taken over the eight-hectare Wagga Road property since it closed in May.
Mr West, the former owner of Borella Road Seafoods, started volunteering at the sanctuary 20 years ago.
“I used to give food (fish fillet off-cuts) to the pelicans,” he said.
“I was just amazed that no one used to give them a hand. It just kind of grew on from there.”
But a rise in utility costs, a slowdown in visitors and lack of funding from Albury Council had led to the decline and closure of the 40-year-old sanctuary, he said.
Mr West was left with a zoo full of animals.
A sanctuary in Wagga took the swans, some kangaroos, deer and birds.
The penguin and koala went to the Wildlife Sydney Zoo at Darling Harbour and an owl and shingle-back lizard found homes at the Macadamia Castle animal park in Knockrow, NSW.
But no one wanted the last of the wallabies, eastern grey kangaroos and a pair of aggressive emus, Mr West said.
“What can you do? It’s not something sanctuaries want because they’re such prolific animals,” he said.
Albury RSPCA president and veterinarian Arthur Frauenfelder supported Mr West’s decision to put down the animals.
He said he had prevented a “catastrophe” by not releasing them into an environment they were not accustomed to.
“These animals had been in a wildlife refuge. They’re used to being in close proximity to people,” Mr Frauenfelder said.
“I fully agree with what has been done.”
To kill the animals he had spent two decades supporting was a decision Mr West tried to be philosophical about.
He said a motion would go to Albury council early next year to determine what would be done with the money raised from the eventual sale of the land.
“All right, the sanctuary wasn’t a success but the money will go towards something worthwhile,” he said.
“Some good might come out of it.”