THE state government’s plan to continue its Kangaroo “harvesting” program and potentially increase the cull rate on the Mornington Peninsula has angered wildlife advocates who say the peninsula’s native marsupials should be protected.
Victorian harvesting quotas are based around population figures of seven zones, with controversial aerial surveys last year estimating that kangaroo numbers in the Gippsland zone, which includes the peninsula, Wellington Shire and South Gippsland, had increased since 2018 to 17700, and across Victoria to 2,418,000.
The Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Change recently announced the culling program – which put the kill quota of eastern grey kangaroos this year at 13,600 in Gippsland and 215,00 across the state – will be replaced when it expires at the end of the year.
The government is calling on Victorians to have their say by providing feedback on the plan.
But peninsula wildlife advocates and Wildlife Victoria have condemned the culling and are calling for the “immediate” cessation of the harvesting program.
Lisa Palma, CEO of Wildlife Victoria, one of the state’s largest animal welfare organisations, said DEECA’s own internal report deemed the program ineffective and costly to Victorian taxpayers, and highlighted the sustainability risk associated with incentivising animal “control”.
Jo Hansen, from Save Our Kangaroos of the Mornington Peninsula, said the group had put in a submission requesting that Mornington Peninsula Shire be removed from the program.
She said the peninsula’s eastern grey kangaroos had been an isolated population for more than 40 years, and the harvesting programs to date had violated the department’s own guidelines of killing less than 10 per cent of an area’s population using both harvesting and the Authority to Control Wildlife system.
“Local experts believe that there are 2500 to 3000 of these kangaroos remaining on the peninsula, confirmed by a citizen science count conducted in 2021,” Hansen said.
“DEECA and the Conservation Regulator issued lethal control permits for more than 300 eastern grey kangaroos in both 2020 and 2021. These authorisations already exceed the 10 per cent of a population to be murdered before KHP tags are issued to property holders on the Mornington Peninsula.
“If the destruction of eastern grey kangaroos on the peninsula is already exceeding 10 per cent of the population by ATCW permits before issuing Kangaroo Harvest Program tags, you have to wonder how often this is happening throughout Victoria?
“Also, given that the 500-plus kangaroos represent as high as 20 per cent of our Mornington Peninsula population, this all makes it important that the trapped kangaroos at Cape Schanck are safely released.”
Hundreds of kangaroos have been trapped on a private property at Cape Schanck for around 18 months, with DEECA refusing to allow wildlife experts and vets to herd them out due to “welfare” concerns.
The situation has still not been resolved and is at a stalemate, despite Mornington Peninsula Shire Council installing one-way gates last year.
Hansen said the state government’s approach to protecting wildlife while killing kangaroos was hypocritical and unsustainable.
Information on kangaroo’s more broadly, including population surveys is also available at wildlife.vic.gov.au/our-wildlife/kangaroos