The Riverina’s farmers have welcomed a move by the state government to relax kangaroo culling restrictions.
As part of the drought package, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage made it easier for farmers to obtain cull licences. Bethungra landowner Tim Kent believes the move could not have come at a more opportune time.
Previously, Mr Kent would apply for a licence every four months that allowed him to shoot between 50 and a hundred kangaroos on his 13,000 acre property. Now, his licence allows for the culling of 500 kangaroos.
“Dry times brings them out in the open, searching for green ground and most of the time, that’s our pasture land. This year would be the most I’ve seen in my 20 years living here,” Mr Kent said.
Mr Kent’s property is bordered by the Ulandra Nature Reserve, where much of the Riverina’s kangaroo population exists. The abundant presence of the pest species has made for difficult times on Mr Kent’s farm.
“I don’t think we’ll ever stop them to be honest. Even with a licence, you’d send yourself broke buying bullets to get them all.”
While approving of the changes, Mr Kent is of the opinion that the state government should expend greater energy in helping farmers stay kangaroo-free.
“They have to realise that it’s a problem, and we need to help solve it,” said Mr Kent.
“Setting up a six foot exclusion fence around your crops, they do that out west and it’s made it all more manageable.
“But exclusion fences can be pretty expensive, so if you’ve got one but your neighbour doesn’t you’re just sending the problem to them.”
Prior to the restriction changes, farmers were required to tag each carcass and leave it in situ after killing it.
But now, farmers have been given the right to utilise the meat to feed their stock and work animals.
It is this changed that fellow Bethungra farmer Ashley Hermes has welcomed the most.
“Tagging and driving away from plastic rubbish always felt wrong to me.
“The only good thing about the tags is it forced farmers to check the animal is dead, so they wouldn’t be leaving it to die slowly. That’s inhumane and irresponsible,” said Mr Hermes.
“I believe a restriction should be placed on farmers to ensure a suitable high powered rifle is used to ensure swift and humane culling.”
Despite the changes being initially touted as a temporary measure to ease the drought effects, both Mr Kent and Mr Hermes are hopeful it will see longevity.
“I wouldn’t want it to start raining and then suddenly the rules are tightened again,” said Mr Hermes.