Firing Squad

Farmers will help form the frontline of a pilot program to control kangaroo numbers, which would see landholders licenced as kangaroo field processors, and the roo harvest zone and allowable species expanded.

In an attempt to control high kangaroo numbers across South Australia, the State Government last week announced the three-month pilot program to increase landholder participation in commercial kangaroo harvesting.

However while the action on controlling kangaroo numbers has been welcomed, some believe funds would be better spent on supporting professional roo shooters already in the industry.

Set to begin this month, the $25,000 pilot project would be managed by Livestock SA and is expected to provide additional income opportunities for drought-affected farmers, as well as address the financial and environmental pressures associated with high kangaroo populations.

Up to 10 landholders – with an initial focus on the Upper North and western Eyre Peninsula – whose properties are being impacted by high kangaroo populations and are in commercial harvest zones, will be supported to become licensed kangaroo field processors.

The trial has been jointly developed by the Department of Environment and Water (DEW), Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), Livestock SA and
Macro Meats.

The State Government is also proposing to update the SA Commercial Kangaroo Management Plan to expand the commercial kangaroo harvesting zone and increase the number of species that can be harvested.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Tim Whetstone, said high kangaroo numbers were putting severe pressure on farmers and the environment.

“This pilot will identify landholders whose properties are not only experiencing drought conditions but also the impact of high kangaroo populations and the associated impacts on land and feed base,” he said.

“If the pilot is successful, the State Government plans to implement a broader program.

“During the three-month trial, annual permit fees and accreditation costs will also be waived to encourage landholders to get involved.

“The proposed changes will support primary producers, local government and the commercial kangaroo industry better manage overabundant kangaroos, and provide further opportunities to use kangaroos for meat or skin production.”

Department for Environment and Water chief executive officer, John Schutz, said the current kangaroo management plan was adopted in 2018, but high kangaroo numbers had prompted a review in order to better protect the environment, support kangaroo welfare, and the agricultural and commercial harvest industries.

“We are suggesting the commercial harvest zone be expanded from South Australia’s pastoral area to also cover Yorke Peninsula, Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu Peninsula, Kangaroo Island and the South East,” Mr Schutz said.

“We are also proposing to include more kangaroo species in the commercial harvest. We are looking at species which are not threatened and have increased in abundance and distribution during the past
decade.

“Surveys will be conducted to determine population estimates for each species in each harvest sub-region so quotas can be set before kangaroos are harvested. This will ensure populations are managed sustainably.

“By better managing kangaroo overabundance across the state we will see improved outcomes for the environment as well as supporting kangaroo welfare.”

Livestock SA president, Joe Keynes, said the group would co-ordinate engagement with the pilot program with interested landholders.

“This is a great proactive approach in enabling producers to ensure their operations remain viable while also up-skilling at the same time,” he said.

“As part of this pilot program, State Government funding will assist producers to obtain the required meat hygiene and food safety accreditation to ensure they meet the relevant standards for their field operations.

“Macro Meats will also provide mentoring to participating landholders along with information and demonstration sessions so they can undertake the mandatory training and establish their field processing operations. Meat produced during the trial will be purchased by Macro Meats.”

Landholders interested in taking part in the trial should contact Livestock SA on 08 8297 2299 or email admin@livestocksa.org.au

Members of the public are invited to read more about the proposed changes and to provide feedback on the updated South Australian Commercial Kangaroo Management Plan at: https://yoursay.sa.gov.au.

Feedback closes on September 6, 2019.