National wildlife welfare advocates in Castlemaine say a proposed kangaroo pet food meat processing plant at Inglewood risks wiping out that area’s native kangaroo population within months.
They’re urging the state member for Bendigo West and the state’s agriculture minister to intervene to stop the plant going ahead.
The Campaspe Meat Company has applied to the Loddon Shire Council to establish the facility with the company’s director stating that, if approved, the plant could be operational within weeks, processing 1000 of the native animals a week – ultimately increasing up to 2000 a week – and creating 10 jobs.
But national wildlife advocates based in Castlemaine, Elphinstone and Maldon say the numbers of kangaroos proposed to be killed is unsustainable.
Among those objecting is Australian Wildlife Protection Council member, Maldon’s Ian Slattery, who rescues injured wildlife across multiple local government areas and says the proposed plant would decimate wildlife, tourism potential and local amenity with Loddon Shire locals forced to listen to gunshots through the night.
Local wildlife advocates also particularly fear the proposal will result in the inhumane suffering of native wildlife.
“The shooting takes place at night and it simply isn’t able to be monitored,” Mr Slattery said.
“As rescuers, we are the ones called out by locals the morning after the killing to deal with the aftermath – kangaroos with limbs and jaws shot off, remains of butchered bodies and orphaned joeys calling out for their dead mothers.
“It is a sickening sight and the locals who discover these poor animals are traumatised by what they have witnessed.
“If this facility is allowed to proceed, central Victoria will end up the same as regions in NSW and SA where the kangaroo pet food industry has all but wiped out local populations of native kangaroos.”
Castlemaine-based president of the Australian Society for Kangaroos, Nikki Sutterby, says the Society has also lodged an objection with the Loddon Shire Council and is urging others to do likewise.
“The Campaspe Meat Company plans to process up to 2000 kangaroos per week for pet food, which will directly result in the cruel death of up to 1000 orphaned joeys every week, for just 10 jobs,” Ms Sutterby said.
Local animal welfare advocates also say the proposal is particularly ill-timed given World Wildlife Fund findings that almost three billion koalas, kangaroos and other animals are estimated to have been killed or displaced in Australia’s ‘Black Summer’ bushfires 2019-20.
They say the national fauna emblem holds far greater earning capacity promoted as a fully protected tourist drawcard.
“Bringing tourists into the community helps accommodation suppliers, local cafes and other businesses long term,” Elphinstone wildlife carer Nikki Medwell said.
Bendigo MP Maree Edwards confirmed she had received communication from the Australian Wildlife Protection Council, highlighting concerns about the proposed plant.
“I have been contacted by the Australian Wildlife Protection Council and forwarded their concerns to the minister for agriculture,” Ms Edwards said.
A Loddon Shire Council spokesperson told the Midland Express the application was now in the process of being assessed by council officers and following completion of the assessment process would proceed to a future meeting of the council for its consideration.