CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Two Australian police officers used pepper spray to fight off a rogue kangaroo that had attacked an elderly woman in her backyard in an Outback town, an official said Tuesday.
Kangaroos rarely attack humans. Senior-Sgt. Stephen Perkins, head of police in the Queensland state town of Charleville, said he had never before heard of police using pepper spray against one — but that the tactic worked.
"It did subdue the animal and drew its attention away for the officers, so it worked," Perkins told The Associated Press.
The 94-year-old victim, Phyllis Johnson, was taken to a hospital for treatment for cuts and bruises after the attack Sunday afternoon. She told The Courier Mail newspaper that she tried unsuccessfully to fight the kangaroo off with a broom after it attacked her while she was hanging her laundry.
"I thought it was going to kill me," she told the newspaper from her bed in Charleville Hospital on Monday. "It was taller than me and it just plowed through the clothes on the washing line straight for me."
She said the kangaroo knocked her to the ground before she crawled to her house, where her son called police. The AP could not immediately contact her for comment Tuesday.
Perkins said the first police officer to reach the backyard was forced to spray the kangaroo to avoid being injured.
"The animal jumped away, then saw another officer at the back of the police car and went for that officer, and he also had to deploy his capsicum spray — so the roo had to get sprayed twice," he said. "After that, it hopped away from the scene, but police could still monitor its location — it didn't go too far."
Wildlife rangers trapped the kangaroo, Perkins said. State wildlife authorities could not be immediately contacted Tuesday for comment on its fate.
Perkins said it was described as a male red kangaroo, the world's largest marsupial. Red kangaroos, named for their ginger fur, can stand as tall as a man and usually weigh around 200 pounds (90 kilograms).