Wildlife carers say they are “in tears” after the Victorian government announced a plan to allow commercial hunters to shoot thousands of extra kangaroos.
The announcement today comes just one year after the Black Summer bushfires killed or harmed an estimated three billion native animals - 5 million of which were kangaroos or wallabies.
Despite the fires burning almost 2 million hectares of habitat in Victoria, the state government estimates that kangaroo numbers have boomed, with numbers said to have increased 40 per cent since 2018.
According to the department of agriculture, “over-abundant populations” of kangaroos are competing with livestock and damaging fences and crops.
They go on to describe the animals as having low impact on land, and herald them as a “low-emissions meat source”.
For the first time the animals will be shot not just for pet food, but for human consumption as well, meaning the meat will no longer need to be imported from other states.
In comparison, the NSW government announced a reduction in its commercial harvest, with allowable numbers dropping from 2,126,176 in 2020 to 1,598,761.
Wildlife carer ‘in tears’ after government kill announcement
Kangaroo carer Manfred Zabinskas said the government’s move has left him and other carers he works with in tears.
He said increasing the “harvest” quota amid ongoing issues drought has left him “gobsmacked”, forcing him to question whether there is any point in continuing to rehabilitate kangaroos if they are just going to be shot.
“We’re just in shock,” he said.
“I’ve got to say my first reaction is are we just wasting our time (caring for kangaroos), why are we killing ourselves?
“Then we look around the animals that still need our help and we’re just…we’re angry and we’re sad.”
Call to reverse kangaroo kill decision
Animal Justice Party PM Andy Meddick has questioned the government’s population figures and called on them to urgently reverse their decision.
“It seems the Andrews Labor Government will only be satisfied when every last kangaroo is wiped from our state,” Mr Meddick said.
“This program is not just incredibly cruel, it is unscientific. During optimal times, kangaroos can only increase their numbers by 10 percent.
“Claiming there has been a rise by 40 percent is at best, an exaggeration, and at worst, misleading.”
In a media statement announcing the quota increase, Victoria’s Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas did not address animal welfare concerns raised by carers, but focused on the jobs it will provide.
“This program provides a service to farmers and an income to trained professional shooters,” Ms Thomas said.
“The changes to how products generated from the Kangaroo Harvesting Program can be used gives more options to harvesters and processors to make use of these animals and reduce waste – and create more jobs in country towns.”
The author, Michael Dahlstrom, is a registered native bird carer in NSW.
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