Kangaroos to be turned into pet food in Australian 'harvesting' program

Kangaroos have come to be seen as pests that must be controlled.

(CNN)Licensed hunters in the Australian state of Victoria will now be able to shoot kangaroos for use in pet food under a new plan announced Tuesday.

The "Kangaroo Harvesting Program" will become a permanent fixture in the southern Australian state after a five-year trial was completed, according to a press release from the Victoria state government.
While the animals are seen as a cute symbol of Australia by foreigners, kangaroos are increasingly causing problems at home by destroying crops and causing car accidents.
    "Accredited shooters will now be able to harvest kangaroos and have carcasses processed for pet food by licensed businesses," reads the release.
    The stated aim of the program is to manage kangaroo populations, minimizing waste, supporting jobs and making life easier for farmers who see the marsupials as pests.
    "The Program balances the need to keep kangaroo populations at healthy levels and ensure farmers aren't being overrun by roos who can eat crops, damage property, and compete with stock for feed and water," said Jaclyn Symes, Victoria's minister for agriculture.
    Lessons from the five-year "Kangaroo Pet Food Trial" were incorporated in the design of the permanent program, which includes seven designated "harvest zones" home to large numbers of kangaroos.
    Accredited shooters will be allowed to kill a set number of kangaroos in each zone as part of safeguards to make sure harvesting is sustainable and animal welfare standards are met, according to the state government.
    "The new program will be overseen to ensure that Victoria's kangaroo population will be sustainably managed, while meeting animal welfare requirements," said Lily D'Ambrosio, Victoria's minister for energy, environment and climate change.
    The state's Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will update the annual harvest quota using kangaroo population surveys.
    The program was announced shortly after as many as 20 kangaroos are believed to have been run over by a vehicle in a mass slaughter in the Australian state of New South Wales.
    The kangaroos -- including baby joeys -- were killed on September 28 in rural Tura Beach, around six hours' drive south of Sydney.
    Kangaroos have been coming into increasing contact with humans due to food scarcity.
      In Jul 2018 mobs of kangaroos raided patches of grass in the Australian capital Canberra causing concern for drivers.
      Driving in areas with large populations of kangaroos is ill-advised during the animals' dawn and dusk feeding times as they can jump in front of moving vehicles without warning.