THE future of Victoria’s divisive Kangaroo Pet Food Trial is up in the air.
Last year the state government made a last-minute decision to extend the trial by another 12 months, bringing the program end date to March 31, 2019.
The announcement came one day before the program was due to end.
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said the state government’s delay of determining the future of the trial was “a serious case of déjà vu”.
“Confidence among farmers, professional shooters and processors has been decimated by Labor's failure to genuinely support this emerging industry," she said.
“This trial has proven its worth and this year, instead of another extension, it must be made permanent so that processors have confidence to invest in the industry and to support existing and future jobs.”
The trial started in 2014 as a way to reduce waste of kangaroo carcasses. It was extended for a further two years in 2016, with an end date of March 2018.
The program allows permit holders in 16 local government areas to cull or remove kangaroos off private land for commercial processing.
These LGAs include the Horsham and Ararat rural city councils; and Northern Grampians, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack shire councils.
Last year, Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio said the one year extension would allow the government to re-assess whether the trial was sustainable to the state's kangaroo population.
The Wimmera Mail-Times sent Ms D’Ambrosio’s office a number of questions, asking if the state government had plans to make the kangaroo pet food program permanent, or whether it was considering an extension to the trial.
It also asked for the results of the kangaroo population sustainability assessment.
The Mail-Times received a statement from a government spokesperson. They said a decision about the future of the trial was “expected shortly”.
“Following an evaluation in early 2018, the trail was extended in order to determine long-term trends and impacts on population,” they said.
“The Kangaroo Pet Food Trial is currently being evaluated and options are being considered for the future of kangaroo processing in Victoria post the conclusion of the trial.”
The spokesperson said the purpose of the trial was to reduce the waste of carcasses from kangaroos which would have been controlled under an Authority to Control Wildlife.
The state government’s trial evaluation in March 2018 found that there were a number of key risks associated with introducing a financial incentive into the ATCW system.
“Numbers of kangaroos approved for control have risen sharply in trial areas. While there may be several contributing factors, a comparison of the increase in trial and non-trial areas shows that the trial is likely to be the primary cause of the increase. The current design also presents some limitations with monitoring, regulation and compliance,” the evaluation read.
Animal activist group the Australian Society for Kangaroos condemned the extension of the trial in 2018.
President Nikki Sutterby said the state government was not transparent about the number of kangaroos killed.
“Victorian government data has revealed that prior to 2014, an average of 51,000 kangaroos were authorised to be killed by landholders in Victoria each year,” she said.
“However in 2017 – four years after the kangaroo meat and skins industry entered Victoria – 189,100 Western Grey, Eastern Grey and Red Kangaroos were authorised to be killed.
“This amounts to a 300 per cent increase in the number of kangaroos being killed in Victoria each year. This is a massive increase in the slaughter and suffering of our iconic kangaroos and native animals in Victoria.”
The first state-wide kangaroo population survey was conducted in September 2017. The overall kangaroo population in Victoria was estimated to be 1.44 million at the time of the survey.
Central Victoria had the highest density of kangaroos with 48.5 kangaroos per square kilometre.
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