REGION - Ararat Rural City and Northern Grampians Shire Councils have welcomed trial arrangements for the processing of kangaroo meat across the region.
The controlled two year trial, which will begin next Monday, will allow selected and regulated processing of kangaroo carcasses for pet food.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the trial would be restricted to kangaroos culled under Authority to Control Wildlife (ATCW) permits, with the aim of reducing waste and providing an alternative disposal option for landowners.
"The two year trial will be conducted in six local government areas in North East Victoria and six local government areas in Western Victoria where there are the highest number of wildlife control applications," Mr Walsh said.
"Currently kangaroos culled under authorised control efforts cannot be used or processed commercially. Landholders must bury the carcasses and, depending on the size of the control effort required, this can be laborious.
"Pet food processors have shown interest in making productive use of what is currently a wasted meat supply, and this would also help landowners with disposal."
Ararat Rural City Council CEO Andrew Evans said it is important for people to remember the measures are not permanent, so are therefore worth a try.
"I can only see this as a good thing, at the moment there is a bit of wastage, what you would call inefficiency as carcasses are literally left to rot in paddocks," he said.
"This will only apply to those who already have a permit and ensure that what could become a resource isn't wasted."
Northern Grampians Shire Mayor, Cr Kevin Erwin said the announcement of the trial was a positive development.
"Kangaroos have been a problem for some farmers and if they do need to be culled, it will be good to see them utilised in some way," he said.
Nationals Member for Western Victoria David O'Brien is pleased his call for the introduction of pet food processing have been heeded.
"This is a logical move and a carefully-planned state government initiative backed by the VFF and industry bodies," he said.
"When I first raised this as a possibility in September, I had lengthy discussions with many people regarding the benefits for regional areas.
"Victoria was one of the only mainland states where this processing is not carried out.
"As it was, the carcasses were processed over the border in NSW and then sold back into Victoria."
Mr O'Brien said he believed the plan would not lead to extra kangaroos being culled.
"As I originally said, this will simply make use of carcasses that would otherwise be left to rot," he said.
"The kangaroos currently culled in Victoria to maintain a sustainable population are left in the paddock to attract feral animals."
Within the trial areas, kangaroos intended for processing must be controlled by shooters with approved qualifications, who must be listed as the agent on the Authorised Control permit.
Meat industry regulator PrimeSafe will work with licensed pet food processors to ensure stringent adherence to regulatory standards.
Processors must be licensed under the Meat Industry Act 1993 and will also need a wildlife processor licence under the Wildlife Act 1975.
Mr Walsh said there would be no change to the process or assessment criteria for the granting of Authority to Control Wildlife permits.
"Wherever possible, the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) advocates non-lethal management of kangaroos but in some situations these methods are ineffective, impractical or excessively costly. "In these cases, landholders can apply for an ATCW permit," Mr Walsh said.
"ATCW permits will continue to be assessed on case-by case basis and will only be granted if DEPI officers are satisfied lethal control is required."