Farmers across NSW are hand feeding livestock and resting paddocks in the hope that when the rain falls the grass will grow. But with Government estimates of nearly 14.5 million kangaroos in NSW alone, they are fighting a losing battle. This is double the number of kangaroos in South Australia and Western Australia combined. Ten years ago there was less than half this number at just over seven million.
The NSW Farmers association is calling on the NSW Government to be proactive in managing kangaroo numbers to maintain the population at sustainable levels. The State sets quotas for culling, currently this is set at 15 per cent of the population, or 2.2 million in NSW for 2018. However, these quotes are drastically under fulfilled. In 2017, commercial take was just over 10 percent of the quota. More needs to be done. Our members are telling us that they see more kangaroos than livestock when they look out at their paddocks each morning. It’s also distressing to see kangaroos dying in large numbers due to a lack of feed and water.
Wholesale changes to the non-commercial, landholder culling program are needed. Farmers aren’t able to access sufficient tags through the National Parks. A farmer will see hundreds of kangaroos and will be given a handful of tags and then be required to apply for a licence every three months. It’s not appropriate. Administration of these tags needs to move to the state’s agricultural advisory service, the Local Land Service, and red tape needs to be lifted in times of plague, which is where we are at now.
For commercial programs, it is critical to the future food security of our nation that the State and Commonwealth Governments work together to develop a long term strategy for kangaroo management that includes improved culling strategies using increased licences for processors. This is a unique product that if promoted appropriately, could be a significant export to be included in the negotiation of Free Trade Agreements.
Kangaroos are an important part of our country’s culture and heritage, but we desperately need a solution to maintain the population at manageable levels.