Kangaroo program now permanent
Farmer representatives have welcomed a permanent Kangaroo Harvesting Program to help manage kangaroo populations in Victoria.
Victorian Farmers Federation Livestock Group has backed a State Government move that will also support the state’s kangaroo pet-food industry.
Accredited shooters will now be able to harvest kangaroos and have carcasses processed for pet food by licensed businesses – making it easier for farmers, minimising waste and supporting jobs in regional communities.
The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions is administering the new program, which includes strict safeguards to ensure harvesting occurs at a sustainable level, that animal welfare standards are met, and that the livelihoods of farmers are protected.
The Kangaroo Harvesting Program replaces the Kangaroo Pet Food Trial, which has run for the past five years.
The Kangaroo Harvesting Program will feature a standardised form for landowners to provide written consent for a harvester to cull kangaroos on the landowner’s property.
Authorities are encouraging farmers to ask harvesters for evidence of their authorisation to harvest kangaroos and that they have appropriate insurance.
VFF Livestock Group president Leonard Vallance said the program would improve kangaroo management, cut red tape for farmers and bring Victoria in line with other states.
“It’s positive to see that the program removes the administrative burden of kangaroo management on farmers,” he said.
“Farmers will no longer need to apply for a permit or prove kangaroo damage has occurred on their property to access the new kangaroo pet-food program.
“However, we are still concerned that kangaroo control in Victoria is being managed by two government departments, and about whether departmental delays will hinder the efficiency of the process.
“We also want to ensure that the kangaroo pet-food supply chain does not drown in red tape as this program is rolled out.
“The kangaroo population in Victoria has exploded in recent years to well beyond natural levels.
“The abnormally large kangaroo population is having a serious impact on agricultural businesses, native habitats, regional road safety and the welfare of the kangaroos themselves.
“During the Kangaroo Pet Food Trial, we were inundated with calls from members who had lost pasture and crops and had fences ruined by large numbers of kangaroos.
“It was a clear message from the farming community that a permanent kangaroo harvest program was needed.”
Mr Vallance said the VFF would continue to provide feedback to government agencies and contribute to a program review in late 2020 to ensure the program was effective for all stakeholders.
Animal Justice Party Member for Western Victoria Andy Meddick, meanwhile, described the ‘kangaroo-kill’ plan as disappointing and called for an immediate halt to the plan.
He said the process would lead to an annual slaughter of 11 percent of Victoria’s eastern grey kangaroos.
He said the move had shocked Victorians ‘after the leaking of a report in March that found serious issues about the trial’.
“Our eastern grey kangaroos are already dropping in numbers. This plan could see them being shot to extinction,” he said.
“People travel from all over the world to see these iconic animals and they are casting judgement on the State Government for this decision.
“The damning report of the trial should have been enough to put the nail in the coffin.
“Premier Daniel Andrews must cancel Victoria’s cruel kangaroo kill and listen to the outcry of concerns for animal welfare, conservation and community safety.”
The government has designated seven harvest zones covering areas with significant numbers of kangaroos. An allocated number of kangaroos will be able to be harvested in each zone by shooters accredited with the program, using a tag system.
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will set a maximum total harvest for each zone based on state-wide kangaroo population surveys.
It will update quotas annually to reflect changes in wildlife numbers and to ensure a sustainable Victorian kangaroo population.
An Authority to Control Wildlife system will continue to operate alongside the Kangaroo Harvesting Program as an alternative for landowners to control kangaroos on their own property – but carcasses in this case cannot be processed under the new system.
Landholders or harvesters interested in being involved in the Kangaroo Harvesting Program can visit agriculture. vic.gov.au/kangarooharvesting program.