By Gabriella Payne
Residents in Cardinia’s rural communities are growing concerned for the local kangaroo population, as they fear the Victorian Government’s harvesting laws could be disproportionately affecting the shire compared with the rest of the Gippsland region.
Tynong North resident and local landcare member Pam Cunningham said that while she knew kangaroos could be pesky for farmers, she was growing increasingly worried that the state’s kangaroo harvesting program could see Cardinia’s population “wiped out“, given the shire had been lumped in with the rest of Gippsland.
“Under the new game licence (which I researched), it seems local farmers can have a person drive up from metro Melbourne to come and get all the kangaroos on their property,“ Ms Cunningham explained.
“But before, if you had a problem with kangaroos on your property, it was per acre, whereas now [it seems] you can wipe out the whole lot!“
According to the Victorian Government’s game hunting regulations, the kangaroo harvesting program began on 1 October 2019 and saw the state split up into seven different ’harvest’ zones, with the Cardinia Shire falling into the Gippsland area (spanning all the way past Mallacoota to the NSW border in the east).
Ms Cunningham said she was concerned by this, as each zone had a “total recommended take“ set at 10 per cent of the kangaroo population – but with Cardinia’s close proximity to the city, she feared that hunters were more likely to travel to the Cardinia Shire to cull kangaroos as compared to further regions of the zone.
“The regulations say that a certain percentage can be harvested in Gippsland, but that goes up to the border – and it’s much easier to drive down to Cardinia [from metro Melbourne] than to Lakes Entrance,“ she said.
“It would be very upsetting if everybody culled all their kangaroos – I would hate to see them wiped out.“
A Victorian Government spokesperson said that the “best available science“ was used in the development of these regulations and that the 10 per cent cap took into account the longer term impact on kangaroo populations across the state.
“Quotas for controlling and harvesting kangaroos are set and monitored for seven harvest zones in Victoria, not for individual local government areas,“ the spokesperson said.
“To ensure sustainability of eastern and western grey kangaroo populations in Victoria, the total level of take has been set at 10 per cent of the population in each harvest zone, which is lower than rates used in other states.
“However, the actual numbers of kangaroos taken out of the Gippsland zone last year was estimated at only 5.5 per cent.”
The spokesperson said that the number of kangaroos being culled across the state was monitored regularly and that the harvesting program quota may be reduced or suspended during the year if levels approached the recommended maximum.
Ms Cunningham said she was concerned that this was incredibly difficult to monitor though.
“When they allocated these zones, [the cap is set at] 10 per cent of Gippsland, but it could be 100 per cent of our area,“ she said.
“It will change the genetics of the kangaroos if you get rid of them all in one area.“
Ms Cunningham said that local landcare groups offered a sustainable kangaroo harvesting program that anyone could access in the area, but she hoped to see the local population continue to thrive into the future.
For more information on the state government’s kangaroo harvesting regulations, visit https://djpr.vic.gov.au/game-hunting/kangaroo-harvesting