The Victorian Government should reinstate the kangaroo harvesting program across areas of north-east Victoria not affected by the summer’s bushfires, according to State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan.
Ms Ryan said the government had indefinitely suspended the kangaroo program across Greater Bendigo, Campaspe, Strathbogie and Benalla local government areas.
“It is illogical the Andrews Government has halted this program in areas which are hundreds of kilometres away from the bushfires in the Upper Murray,” Ms Ryan said.
“We had no major fires in the Bendigo, Campaspe, Strathbogie or Benalla areas during summer and landholders need to be able to access the kangaroo harvesting program.
“Without it, anyone who has a permit to cull kangaroos to keep numbers under control now has no choice but to leave the carcase to rot in a paddock, creating a smorgasbord for foxes and wild dogs.”
In a statement, the Victorian Government said harvesting quotas were determined by zone and the north-east zone was impacted by bushfires.
“The current hold on harvesting in the north-east harvest zone was put in place in January to protect kangaroo populations until a comprehensive assessment of the impacts of the bushfires on kangaroo populations is completed,” the statement said.
A spokesperson said the government was still assessing the impacts of the bushfires on kangaroo populations in the north-east and a decision was expected this month.
Meeting with farmers impacted by kangaroos in Heathcote recently, Ms Ryan said she had written to Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio demanding a resumption of the program.
“The harvesting program helps communities like Heathcote where kangaroos are in serious numbers,” Ms Ryan said.
“I am concerned the bushfires are being used as cover by the Andrews Government to abandon the program in areas a long way from the fire front.
“Labor only re-instated the program after intense political pressure and the fact it has suspended it now with no return date casts doubt over its future.
“We worked incredibly hard to get Labor to commit to keeping the program in the first place, after it was introduced by The Nationals in 2014.”
Ms Ryan said the promising start to the season meant kangaroo numbers had increased.
“It might not seem like so much of a problem now when feed is plentiful through winter, but come summer, kangaroos will begin to struggle as paddocks start to dry off.”