Australian authorities announced on Thursday that they are investigating the illegal killing of at least 65 kangaroos, which were found shot or apparently rammed by a vehicle. A local wildlife shelter alerted Victorian wildlife officials after discovering the eastern grey kangaroos in rural paddocks approximately 120 km north of Melbourne, according to officials.

"At least three of the kangaroos were found alive but were subsequently euthanised due to the severity of their injuries," stated the state's Conservation Regulator. "Two kangaroo joeys were recovered and are being cared for at a wildlife shelter," it added in a statement. The marsupials had suffered fatal gunshot wounds and "traumatic injuries consistent with being rammed by a vehicle," the regulator explained. Used shotgun cartridges were found in the area.

Although kangaroos are protected in Australia, the most common species are not endangered. This means they can be shot and killed in most jurisdictions but require government permission. Kangaroos, whose numbers fluctuate between 30 million and 60 million nationally, are frequently culled to manage the population. The animals experience a "boom and bust" population cycle—when fodder is abundant following a good wet season, their numbers can increase by tens of millions. Annually, up to five million kangaroos are also shot as part of a domestic industry that utilizes their carcasses for meat, pet food, and leather.