Farmers will get more powers to control kangaroos on their own properties under new regulations to be brought in by September by the NSW Government.
The need to tag carcasses and also to visit NPWS offices in person to obtain culling licences has been dropped. Also a South-East harvest management area for kangaroos will be established.
The new measures were announced by the Government as part of its drought package, with kangaroo numbers, according to many western graziers “exploding” in western NSW, putting even more pressure on pastures.
“We have heard loud and clear that farmers and also road users throughout regional NSW, are seeing more and more kangaroos,” Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said. “Kangaroos are causing damage to farm fences, eating what little pasture is left on the ground and drinking the limited water resources,” Mr Blair said.
“Coupled with road safety risks and animal welfare concerns for the kangaroos themselves which are running very short of food and water in many areas, this is understandably leading to frustrations in rural communities.”
“We are making it easier for landholders to manage high numbers of kangaroos. The changes will reduce red-tape and streamline processes for non-commercial licences. These changes will make it easier for landholders to respond to kangaroos.”
Government will also support landholders to connect with commercial harvesters which will provide landholders an additional tool to manage kangaroos.
Specific changes include:
- Landholders will now be able to apply for shoot and let lie licences and report numbers culled by telephone or email.
- Landholders will no longer be required to attach a tag to the carcass of the culled kangaroos.
- Landholders and nominated shooters will be allowed to use the carcasses for non commercial purposes.
- More that two shooters will be allowed to undertake culling operations on a property.
- A process will begin to establish a new commercial harvesting zone in the South East of NSW.
The Pastoralists Association of the West Darling (PAWD) welcomed the changes. PAWD president Lachlan Gall said PAWD wrote to Minister Blair in early May, outlining the drought situation in western NSW and making a number of recommendations in regard to appropriate responses by government.
“The NSW kangaroo population reached a record peak of 17.4 million in 2016, with approximately 3 kangaroos for every sheep in the Western Division,” Mr Gall said. “Since then, we have seen numbers fall as drought conditions and sustained high kangaroo numbers are incompatible.”
“The impact of uncontrolled numbers of kangaroos has seen drought conditions establish across western NSW six months earlier than otherwise would have been expected, impacting family businesses and the environment. Kangaroos are legislated property of the Crown, and with this ownership comes an obligation to manage their numbers and impact appropriately.
“The Association’s letter to Minister Blair made ten recommendations. They included a recommendation that government provides assistance to manage unsustainable numbers of kangaroos and emus, in the form of funding to cover the cost of non-commercial culling. Accordingly, the announcement failed to meet our expectations in this respect. However, the move to eliminate the requirement to tag carcasses culled non-commercially has been well received. The capacity to apply for a licence by telephone or email is a common sense approach, which will save graziers living a long way from the nearest NPWS office a lot of time. Certainly, a reduction in red tape is always a positive outcome.”
Mr Blair announced a new commercial harvesting area in South-East NSW.
“We will start the process to expand the commercial harvest zone to the South East of the state, because landholders have expressed a desire to have commercial harvesting.
“There are commercial harvesting zones across most of NSW. But there are no harvesting zones along the East Coast and in the South East. Non-commercial culling can still occur in non-commercial harvesting zones.
“Every five years, OEH submits a Commercial Kangaroo Harvest Management Plan which establishes the quotas of kangaroos that can be harvested sustainably per zone. The Commonwealth government approves the plan and endorses the quotas. Each zone requires a population survey to be conducted. The quotas sit between 15-17 per cent of the total population in the zone, depending on the species and the zone.
“Landholders in the South East have expressed a desire to have a harvesting zone operate. This can be easily achieved by conducting a population survey in the area.
“A population survey has already been completed in Bombala. Secondly, through LLS and DPI we will support landholders who are experiencing pressures from kangaroos to connect with commercial harvesters. This is a win-win situation as it will create new business opportunities for harvesters, while also providing landholders an additional tool to manage kangaroos.”
Mr Blair said landholders can utilise a carcass by removing the existing ‘shoot and let lie’ conditions. “This will allow for the personal use of carcasses and increase the participation of recreational hunters, while reducing biosecurity risks.”
The Land understands farmers near Warrumbungle National Park are being besieged by kangaroos from the park due to the ongoing drought. Farmers fear as soon as there is a new break of rain, kangaroos will descend on any new pick for stock.
Also Mr Blair said: “Farmers will still be required to report over the phone or email the number of kangaroos they have culled, however we are removing the need for physical tags, and the need for farmers to physically present to a National Parks and Wildlife Service office.
“This will enable government to ensure sustainable kangaroo numbers, while allowing farmers to get on with their jobs. OEH has agreed to implement these changes as soon as possible but no later than September 2018.”