Would you eat a Canberra kangaroo?

Genevieve Jacobs 23 October 2018 168

Urban kangaroos are a frequent sight in Canberra’s streets. Photo: Supplied.

Culling the ACT’s kangaroos has caused plenty of angst over the years. But should we eat the urban roos instead of dumping them? Professor George Wilson from the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the ANU says that an improved Australian kangaroo meat industry would have benefits for animal welfare and the environment both locally and around Australia.

Professor Wilson, who has extensive experience in wildlife management, rubbishes the widespread notion that Canberra’s booming kangaroo population are drought refugees. He points out that the lush greens of the ACT’s golf courses and a lack of top-order predators create comfortable living conditions.

“The idea that drought-affected wild kangaroos are coming in from the bush is nonsense”, he says. “These are local roos, born and bred here in Canberra. I see them every day like clockwork, coming down off Red Hill and onto the Federal golf course. The only danger most of them are in is being hit by a golf ball.”

Wilson’s difficulty is not with local measures to keep the kangaroo numbers down, but what happens after that. “ACT Parks and Conservation shoot these animals and then put them in a hole. I’d like to see the kangaroo meat industry much better organised, here and elsewhere, to make better use of the resource,” he says.

The ACT government has consistently said that kangaroo cull numbers wouldn’t support a commercial industry and that there is no commercial use for carcasses.

But Professor Wilson believes that attitudes to the kangaroo meat market are outdated. “These kangaroos are part of the pastoral system. If they were worth more money there would be greater interest from all landholders in managing their welfare.”

“My view is that the industry is about where beef was 40 years ago when nobody paid much attention to quality beyond the farm gate. Beef producers now manage product all the way down the value chain, so the quality of beef is now much better.”

Wilson says that wild kangaroo meat is worth about 60c a kilo, while goat meat sells at $7 a kilo because producers are now investing in managing the product. He’d like to see Meat and Livestock Australia apply their marketing, research and development services to managing the kangaroos on ratepayer properties, although he concedes there would probably be some resistance from vested interests.

“Currently we see kangaroo numbers crashing in droughts, I think the next round of aerial surveys will show a lot of starvation and death, and that is just not good enough. If we increase the value and boost the product demand that will work against the population boom and bust cycles.”

Wilson argues that there are also significant environmental benefits in a well-managed kangaroo meat market, pointing out that unlike ruminants, the marsupials don’t produce methane. He reckons that cattle methane alone is two thirds the volume of that produced by the transport industry in Australia.

“If a grazier has 500 kangaroos and 1000 cattle, they could be encouraged to reduce the number of cattle by 500. If they replace their volume of beef production by harvesting kangaroos instead, they’ve also generated a carbon offset that could be sold into the market.”

He’s frustrated by the Federal government’s focus on increasing beef production when, he says, managing kangaroo populations better would lessen our environmental footprint, benefit animal welfare and help graziers by diversifying their income stream.

“I’m on my way to Dubbo this afternoon to speak to the Western Division of the NSW Farmers Association. There are plenty of farmers and graziers that think this is an excellent idea. We just need more support and investment in the existing industry. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel.”

Do you eat kangaroo meat? Should the Territory government make better use of the kangaroo cull carcasses?

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168 Responses to Would you eat a Canberra kangaroo?
TimboinOz TimboinOz 5:14 pm 22 Nov 18

This likely to enrage the vegan, vegetarians, and deeply committed animal lovers.

I think we ought to be farming both the grey ‘roos and the inland reds.

Joshua Smedley Joshua Smedley 11:27 pm 28 Oct 18

Hell yeah!

Cathy Baylis Cathy Baylis 8:01 pm 28 Oct 18

Why not Colleen!!!

Luke Hart Luke Hart 10:12 am 28 Oct 18

Absolutely! More sustainable than beef

Tara Fraser Munro Tara Fraser Munro 3:18 am 28 Oct 18

Yes, why let the life be wasted

Matthew Pez Matthew Pez 10:35 pm 27 Oct 18

I don't want to sound like a hippie but we should be living in peace with the Kangaroos. No shooting them, living in symbiotic existence and harmony with Skippy. To control their numbers, they should humanely sterilise a few (and there is technology available for that), not shoot the poor things dead. They are on our coat of arms also, culling is disgraceful.

    Luke Hart Luke Hart 10:11 am 28 Oct 18

    Perry Matthew you do realise that they over-run out west because of the grain crops and have no threat what so ever to there population numbers?

Jess Lucia Jess Lucia 6:27 pm 27 Oct 18

Weren’t we all told not too because they have diseases and worms and their meat isn’t safe for consumption?

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 7:38 pm 27 Oct 18

    No, I have never been told that. Meat can be checked. But I believe ALL meat should be cooked well because of this. As someone who used to photograph worms in meat as part of my job, I always cook meat well...and my main red meat is kangaroo. I rarely eat other red meat, unless it is served to me by others. It is my understanding that commercial kangaroo meat comes from the wild. If it is being bred someone can correct this.

    Laura Frame Laura Frame 7:30 am 29 Oct 18

    Jess Strzelecki yep. I have heard that too!

Kellie Whyman Kellie Whyman 4:57 pm 27 Oct 18

Why not, I don’t care where they come from...

MalcolmandJean Scott MalcolmandJean Scott 11:33 pm 26 Oct 18

Sue Meisenhelter - interesting article. Yours thoughts? Jean

Lina Tse Lina Tse 2:55 pm 26 Oct 18

Disgusting and cruel! NO to meat!

Possum Galore Possum Galore 10:40 pm 25 Oct 18

I feed all ma kin on parkway flat me

Shannon Brown Shannon Brown 10:17 pm 25 Oct 18

Of course. There is such a waste of sustainable protein in this country.

Melissa Snape Melissa Snape 9:32 pm 25 Oct 18

Sure would 👍👍

Quin Downs Quin Downs 5:38 pm 25 Oct 18

Lean & tasty meat!

Gez Whelan Gez Whelan 2:46 pm 25 Oct 18

I eat most of the ones I manage to take down, usually check the liver and organs for signs of disease first! It's great having fresh wild game right on the doorstep! Why else would go to so much trouble; hunting them without a firearm isn't as easy as a walk in the park, or is it...

    Mike Wasley Mike Wasley 5:48 am 27 Oct 18

    Problem with roadkills is there is so much bruising to the meat.

    So much waste.

    Wish I had a dog to give it to.

Peter Martel Peter Martel 12:35 pm 25 Oct 18

What time is dinner?

chook58 chook58 11:51 am 25 Oct 18

Kangaroo meat is not so green, clean or humane as you would think. Russia has banned the importation of kangaroo due to persistent e.coli contamination. Kangaroo meat may not be as healthy as previously thought after scientists have linked the meat of the conic Australian animal to heart disease. Following an investigation into the kangaroo industry, the RSPCA found serious animal welfare issues relating to the treatment of dependent pouch young and young at foot. According to the RSPCA report, the way in which pouch joey’s are killed by the industry, that is by decapitation and clubbing, ”is not considered a humane method of euthanasia”. In regard to the fate of dependent joey’s at foot: “a proportion of kangaroos orphaned through shooting will die of starvation, exposure or predation in the days and weeks following the loss of their mother”.

Rowan Hurrell Rowan Hurrell 10:57 am 25 Oct 18

Yep nom nom

Trev Astle Trev Astle 8:49 am 25 Oct 18

Herd them and farm them instead of sheep. These animals are almost drought proof!

Ben Mallie Ben Mallie 7:50 am 25 Oct 18

Cook em up!

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