There are fears that kangaroos in Victoria are being harvested in unsustainable numbers after a Government report revealed serious malpractice linked to the Victorian Government’s Kangaroo Pet Food Trial (KPFT).
- The KPFT began in March 2014 as an effort to control kangaroo numbers and ensure carcasses were not left to rot on the land
- DELWP’s report found some shooters were suspected of providing money to landholders for access to kangaroos
- The pet food trial was structured to avoid creating a financial incentive or compromise the Wildlife Act
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) report, obtained under Freedom of Information by the Australian Society for Kangaroos, found one million kangaroos had died since the trial began in 2014.
The report also found that some shooters had been driven by profit to kill more animals.
A portion of the shooters in trial areas were suspected of providing incentives, including money, to landholders for access to kangaroos.
There were also cases of landholders providing false and misleading information to the Government.
The trial began in March 2014 as an effort to control kangaroo numbers and to ensure carcasses were not left to rot on the land.
The DELWP report showed that the numbers approved for harvesting in trial areas had increased by almost 250 per cent from the average control levels, and that illegal activity was reported after the trial was introduced.
The report also acknowledged that there were a range of issues associated with the current design of the KPFT that compromised the effectiveness of monitoring and enforcement.
It found compliance issues ranged from minor administrative issues to major offences under the Wildlife Act.
“The key offences that have been detected or suspected are the misallocation of kangaroos against KPFT authorisations, overshooting the authorised number of kangaroos, shooters possibly providing incentives, including money, to landholders for access to kangaroos, and landholders providing false and misleading information on applications,” the report read.
“This suggests that despite efforts to structure the trial to avoid creating a financial incentive, the introduction of a commercial element can compromise the integrity of the ATCW (Authority to Control Wildlife) system.”
Killing trends ‘not sustainable’
Two weeks ago, northern Victorian wildlife volunteer Chris Lehmann found 15 kangaroos shot and left on the side of a rural road at Yackandandah.
He said he believed liberal attitudes towards the killing of kangaroos in Queensland and New South Wales had bled across the border, and led to a disturbing trend that was supported by the trial.
“In those states you don’t need a permit to kill kangaroos and I fully believe it’s a consequence of this hateful attitude that’s pervading in the press and pushed by politicians and by those with an agenda,” Mr Lehmann said.
“That attitude has spread across and is affecting the way people treat kangaroos.
“If this rate of killing continues we will face extensive local and or regional extinctions, or perilously low numbers.
“We’ll be threatening the continuation of one of our most unique and iconic animals.”
Mr Lehmann said there needed to be significant changes made as current trends were not sustainable.
“If this were to continue, at a minimum the numbers [being killed] should be no more than normal control orders, because the control order system is designed to assist agriculture, not designed to make a profitable pet food industry,” he said.
“One of our biggest fears is that government, in the name of profit, will ignore their own recommendations.”
Issues will be addressed
In a statement, a spokesperson from DELWP said the trial was being evaluated against its objectives, with options being considered for the future of kangaroo processing in Victoria.
“The extension of the Kangaroo Pet Food Trial in 2018 allowed time to see whether changes to compliance, monitoring and education would address the issues that arose in the evaluation,” the spokesperson said.
“The 2018 evaluation of the Kangaroo Pet Food Trial identified a number of positive outcomes such as increased use of kangaroo carcasses and reduction in effort for landowners, but it also highlighted some key risks associated with allowing commercial processing of kangaroos.”
The spokesperson listed changes that had been made to strengthen the Wildlife Processor Licence and Kangaroo Pet Food Trial’s Authority to Control Wildlife, including:
- requiring improved and increased frequency of reporting on kangaroo carcasses processed;
- notification to DELWP of the professional shooters listed under a processors Food Safety Plans;
- requiring that tags must remain on the property for which they were issued;
- prohibiting tampering or incorrect use of tags; and
- requiring that signs of tampering or incorrect tagging be reported to DELWP.
The trial continues until March 31.