Opinion

Roo trial certainty needed

by
April 03, 2018

Extension of the kangaroo pet food trial for another year makes sense, but certainty would make better sense for farmers.

The trial began in March 2014, allowing the use of kangaroo meat resulting from authorised wildlife control activities to be processed for pet food.

It was extended again in 2016 to increase the number of local government areas involved in the trial from 12 to 16.

Now that it has been extended once more, the call must be made for certainty among farmers, the pet food industry and those whose jobs depend upon the supply of kangaroo pet food.

Equally, wildlife activists who oppose the trial on human reasons would also be demanding certainty.

Shadow Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh has said a Liberal Nationals government would make the trial program permanent.

Also, Victorian Farmers Federation livestock president Leonard Vallance has said Victoria was the only state without an approved management plan for commercial harvested kangaroos.

Mr Vallance also said now was the time to make the trial permanent.

According to the VFF, culling kangaroos for pet food is the best way to reduce the economic and environmental damage excess numbers caused, create jobs in the meat supply chain, and boost revenue that would be invested back into rural communities at the same time.

State Member for Euroa and Nationals deputy leader Steph Ryan has joined in the call to make the trial permanent and to include deer in the pet food industry.

Government figures do show that kangaroo numbers are on the rise in Australia, increasing from about 27 million in 2010 to almost 45 million in 2016.

That is about double the human population.

So on any reasonable estimate it would seem the time is right to cull numbers and support a pet food industry.

However, in doing so we must also ensure there are permits and rules put in place to ensure ethical and sustainable harvesting.

RSPCA and Animal Liberation NSW research has suggested that many kangaroos are not shot in the head and killed immediately.

Permits restricted to professional shooters would go some way to ensuring humane culling methods.

On top of this, it is known that kangaroo numbers are largely determined by environmental conditions — in particular rainfall.

So any plan to make kangaroo harvesting a permanent practice must also include an ability to wind back the numbers able to be culled during drought years.

All this is possible — and would give the meat supply industry and farmers much-needed certainty.

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