Licensed farmers and shooters can now harvest kangaroos commercially in Victoria, Australia. The program has drawn praise from shooters and criticism from wildlife groups.
It was put on effect on Oct 1, 2019. Farmers from the southeast area of the state can now harvest kangaroos and be licensed to use the carcass for pet food.
The state’s Agriculture page explains the measures are necessary to ensure sustainable management of the kangaroo population. It will help landowners facing problems with kangeroos on their properties.
“The program will ensure Victoria’s kangaroo population is managed in a sustainable way, in line with animal welfare standards, while helping landowners who are having problems with kangaroos. These problems might include crop destruction, loss of water meant for livestock, and damage to property such as fences,” reads the page.
The page states that the harvest quota number will vary per zone and will be updated every year. The total commercial harvesting quota of the state is about 14,000 kangaroos.
According to ABC (Australia), the southeast of the state was not included within the previous harvest boundaries. That resulted in shooters leaving carcasses to rot on the ground.
Leigh Collins, a farmer near the South Australian-Victorian border, said that at least the carcasses should be used for something,
“At the moment we’re shooting the kangaroos, leaving them to rot on the ground,” he said.
“I’ve just got to drag them to a hole, and either cover them or [they’re] left to rot.”
Collins said that the main problem is the pasture the kangaroos eat; saying they have doubled in number over the past 3 years on his property, making him lose about $10,000 a year.
“[I] paid a lot of money for that land and I could be running a lot more stock on there,” he said. “Every time I go down to the property, I have to repair fences; there’s electric wires tangled up with other wires, and it shorts it out, and then my stock are getting mixed up because the fences aren’t working.”
Now with the new program, Collins, Fry, and other farmers and shooters will be able to harvest the carcasses.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, (RSPCA) South Australia acknowledged that in some circumstances it can be necessary to have population control over wild animals but the reduction of these needs to be verified by scientific evidence.
“The decision-making process should also include public consultation, ethical approval, and review prior to implementation,” an RSPCA spokesperson said. “Criteria for harvesting must include proving adverse impact of current population.”