VICTORIA, Australia — Dogs and cats down under will see no shortage of kangaroo in their diets starting Oct. 1, especially in Victoria, where the government has implemented the Kangaroo Harvest Management Plan to mitigate a problematic rise in the kangaroo population. The animals will be humanely harvested, collected and provided to pet food manufacturers for use in companion animal diets.
“While kangaroos are native wildlife, the Victorian Government appreciates that they can have a detrimental effect on farmers, producers and Victoria’s economy by eating crops, drinking water meant for livestock and ruining property,” said the State of Victoria’s Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR).
The Kangaroo Harvesting Program follows a successful kangaroo pet food trial conducted by state agencies to determine that the solution to its kangaroo overpopulation problem was feasible.
“The program will ensure Victoria’s kangaroo population is managed in a sustainable way, in line with animal welfare standards, while helping landowners who are having problems with kangaroos. These problems might include crop destruction, loss of water meant for livestock and damage to property such as fences,” stated the DJPR.
Three pet food manufacturing plants are currently participating in the program, located in Yering, Stanhope and Hamilton, Victoria.
According to a FAQ sheet published by the DJPR, “any pet food processor licensed by PrimeSafe can receive kangaroo carcasses and others may join the program in the future.”
The Kangaroo Harvest Management Plan was developed by Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Implementation and compliance will be overseen by the DJPR with help from the Game Management Authority.
As part of the program, Victoria was split into seven zones and each zone was assigned a quota to be met by Dec. 31, 2019. The total commercial harvest quota, to be contributed to pet food manufacturing, is set at 14,090 kangaroos by the end of 2019. The department said it plans to renew the quotas for 2020.
Australian locals can participate in the Kangaroo Harvesting Program, but only after taking firearm proficiency training, a game harvester skill set course, and getting authorized through the state of Victoria. The process will be closely monitored for ecological sustainability, animal welfare standards, biosecurity, food safety and manufacturing practices, as well as enforcement and compliance, according to the Victorian agencies spearheading the management program.
Victoria is home to three species of kangaroo: Eastern Grey, Western Grey, and Red. The overall kangaroo population in the area was estimated to be 1,425,000 in a 2018 survey by the DELWP, which attributes the increase in kangaroo population mainly to “improved pastures, availability of reliable water sources and the removal of predators.”
The Eastern Grey is the predominant species in Victoria by far, with an estimated population of 1,251,000 in 2018, followed by the Western Grey kangaroo at an estimated population of 130,000, and the Red kangaroo at an estimated 44,000. The Kangaroo Harvesting Program only allows for harvesting of Eastern Grey and Western Grey kangaroos on private land in designated harvest zones, according to the DELWP.
Similar to the Kangaroo Harvesting Program, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries implemented the Coastwide Nutria Control Program in 2002 to remove nearly five million wild nutria from its wetlands and marshes. The invasive species is now being utilized in Marsh Dog pet treats as a sustainable way to mitigate an ecological threat.
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