KANGAROOSmight hold the exalted position of gracing this nation’s coat of arms, but that does not shield themfrom persecution.
These days the iconic native marsupials arefrequently ranked alongsideintroduced species such as cane toads andrabbits as our most destructive pests.
This might seem a bit unfair on one of ourmost recognisable animals, which in no small part has helped put Australia on the world tourist map.
But the simple fact is these stately creatures are merely a victim of their own success.
They have spent millions of years adapting to Australia’sharsh environment, meaning they are uniquely placed to thrive in conditions that would trigger population crashes in other species.
The result is that kangaroos exist in plague proportions across vast swathes of Australia –not least of all central Victoria –and cause significant damage to both crops and cars.
Our drought-stricken farmers have struggled enough in recent years without losing any of their precious, income-generating crops to kangaroos to the hungry stomachs of kangaroos.
And RACV statistics showmotorists in the City of Greater Bendigo region are at greater risk of colliding with a roo than drivers in any other municipality in Victoria.
In 2014, the insurer received almost 3600 insurance claims from motorists with kangaroo blood on their bonnets, compared to just 240 claims for wombat-related damage.
The weekend’s announcement that Greater Bendigo, as well as the local government areas of Loddon, Glenelg and West Wimmera, would be added to an expanded pet food cull program is welcomenews.
The state government initiative has so far seen more than 30,000 kangaroos culled and processed into pet food.
Last year, then Bendigo mayor and chairman of the Loddon Campaspe councils Peter Cox saw the benefits of the trial andwrote to the government requesting the region’s participation.
He argued there was little value in merely shootingkangaroos threatening crops and leaving their carcasses to rot in paddocks when a practical use for their meat is available.
As unpalatable as it might seem, it makes far more sense to wring whatever value we can from what is a much-needed population control measure.
– Ross Tyson, deputy editor
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