The Victorian Government has increased the number of kangaroos allowed to be killed as part of its controversial kangaroo harvesting program by nearly 40,000.
- Victoria’s kangaroo harvesting program will now include meat for human consumption
- The quota in 2021 is 95,680 kangaroos, an increase of 37,780 from last year
- The state’s kangaroo population is up almost 40 per cent compared to 2018
Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas said the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning estimated the current kangaroo population was almost 2 million across Victoria, up almost 40 per cent compared to 2018.
“There’s an abundance of kangaroos at the moment competing for food with livestock and so this is also about making sure we have a sustainable number of kangaroos in the state,” she said.
‘Cruelty not tolerated’
The Kangaroo Harvesting Program will now include meat for human consumption and the quota in 2021 is 95,680 kangaroos, an increase of 37,780 from last year.
“Like the kangaroo harvest program for pet food, only trained professional shooters are authorised to participate in the program,” Ms Thomas said.
“They must abide by the national code of practice for the humane shooting of kangaroos.
Central Victorian shooter Glenn Cole said the changes were overdue and it was likely to entice more people to take up kangaroo hunting.
“With our regulations and inspections by the Game Management Authority, hopefully we’ll weed out people doing the wrong thing.”
Unlike shooters involved in the pet food program, harvesters will need both their vehicles and cool rooms authorised by PrimeSafe to transport the carcasses.
“The health and safety standards are that much higher to make kangaroo meat available for human consumption,” Ms Thomas said.
Ray Borda from kangaroo processing and distributing company Macro Group Australia welcomed the announcement but said the quota increase was conservative.
“If the weather conditions continue to be good, you’ll get a population growth of kangaroos and they need to be kept under control — and this is the start of that control,” he said.
Mr Borda said he expected the program to continue into the future and for the quota to increase, but said there was a lack of infrastructure to process the animals.
“I think there are a few small [processing plants], but predominantly so far they have been for pet food.”
“If the program is successful we might even build there.”
Consumers are becoming more at ease with the idea of eating the Australian native animal, Mr Borda said.
“As people are gaining more knowledge and understanding how the animals are taken and how animal welfare is a high priority, they are feeling more comfortable.”
Mr Borda said that making the animal available as human food placed financial value on kangaroos, and in return they were likely to be considered a resource, rather than a pest.
Ms Thomas said the harvesting program had animal and environmental welfare front of mind.
“It makes sense with kangaroo numbers booming that we do the work to make more kangaroo meat available for human consumption.”