Kangaroo cull to be a tough choice
KILLING kangas is not a pleasant subject. I am not referring to the variety that hasn’t quite got its act together since Wayne Carey roamed Pagan’s Paddock.
I’m talking about the real-life variety that invades a great deal many more paddocks. And therein lies the problem. We are in the midst of a kangaroo plague. A recent survey estimated there are more than 1.4 million kangaroos in Victoria, but it is a hard number to pin down.
It does seem low, considering the consensus is that there are about 30-50 million kangaroos nationally.
They are hopping about the state, including outer suburbia, causing untold damage to fences and vehicles and eating severely diminishing livestock feed.
The touchy subject is how do we control them? The kangaroo has no real natural predator, with nature’s only real control being disease, drought or fire. So it falls to human measures. And that means a rifle. And that’s where it gets sticky. The kangaroo is our national icon. It’s on our coat of arms, and symbolises our country internationally. Grab any visitor list, and on top of it will be to see a kangaroo. (A visitor who has most likely arrived on a plane with a kangaroo emblazoned on its tail.) We have had controlled culls of kangaroos for many years. These have usually been met with storms of opposition, but for those who live day to day with kangaroos disrupting their livelihood and safety, it is a necessary evil.
Licenced shooters have been allowed to control them under strict conditions.
But until a few years ago the Victorian government would not let the shooters do anything with the carcasses.
So they were left to rot where they fell, attracting wild dogs and foxes, who would then cause far greater damage to livestock. In 2014, the state government approved a trial where culled kangaroos could be used for pet food. It was never going to please everyone. Anti-kangaroo hunting groups said the trial would encourage greater killing. At 3pm on Good Friday (talk about religious timing), the government approved a 12-month extension of the trial. Clearly, they were trying to bury the announcement, so as not to cause outrage among animal activists and their supporters. The state Labor government walks a fine line with this issue. Kangaroo culling is up there with duck hunting as an issue it hopes will go away because it plays out badly in inner-city seats it cannot afford to lose to the utopian Greens. - Ed Gannon is publisher of The Weekly Times, a sister paper to Rural Weekly.