According to government data, the kangaroo population has grown from 27 million in 2010 to just under 45 million in 2016. This spike in kangaroo numbers has been attributed to heavier rainfall, which has led to more food for the animals.
It had been reported that commercial cull licences were not being availed of, due to low trade prices and lack of demand.
A government report stated that kangaroo were mostly being shot for their hides rather than their meat. “Despite the quality of the meat, more than half of the kangaroos shot commercially in Australia each year are used for their hides only, so meat production could be increased without more kangaroos being killed, or quotas being raised,” it said.
It added that there was a largely untapped export market for kangaroo meat. “Kangaroo meat is so far almost unrecognised as a significant game meat outside Australia, although there has been an export trade in game meat for human consumption since 1955.”
Professor David Paton, from the University of Adelaide, told news channel ABC that more people should consider kangaroo meat as part of their diet. “If we’re going to cull these animals, we do it humanely, but we also perhaps should think about what we might use the animals that are killed for. We shouldn’t just simply leave them out in paddocks to rot or leave them in the reserves to rot.
“It’s not the kangaroos’ fault that they’re overabundant; it’s probably that we’ve just been too reluctant to take a stick to them, remove them out of the system sooner, to actually prevent the damage being caused.”
The Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will be conducting low-level aerial kangaroo surveys across Victoria between now and 30 September 2017 to further assess population figures in the region.