Hard-living kangaroos a solution
WITH the plight of farmers already at fever pitch in the Maranoa region, bold solutions involving wild animals have been put forward to keep farming businesses alive.
In an article for The Conversation, co-authored with UNSW lecturer Adam Munn, senior ecology lecturer at Deakin University Euan Ritchie said economic and environmental problems associated with farmland could be solved by diversifying meat sources to kangaroos and feral animals within the region.
Mr Ritchie said capitalising on alternative species would help combat the future limitations of climate change, increasing population and lack of suitable farmland in the Maranoa region.
“Climate change has made it harder to farm species, especially in arid regions, so we’ve argued that we can look at these options to help farmers and rural workers with economic limitations, and environmental issues,” he said.
“It’s about taking advantage of the problem with feral animals and helping to not only reduce their impact on the land, but also utilise their resources without dependence on livestock.
“We’re not arguing for a complete ban or replacement, but for more diverse options in light of the limitations and future problems.”
Feral animals remain a problem across the Maranoa region, and are known to cause damage to agricultural lands, crops and livestock.
Mr Ritchie said there could be economic benefits associated with the hunting of over-abundant feral animals, which would provide an additional source of income for farmers and even abattoir workers.
“You need the infrastructure to do that as well, but it seems sensible that rural workers would take advantage of options to diversify their produce,” he said.
“It’s about finding ways to help farmers produce meat and reduce pressure in light of future environmental problems they face.”
Councillor Robyn Bryant said while the government-regulated kangaroo industry was currently not commercial in the Maranoa region, it would be timely to look at change from a producer level.
“There is definitely room for expansion in these areas, and they’re becoming quite popular in the region,” Cr Bryant said.
“More research is needed into how we manage this economy in the long term.”
Western Downs Regional Council maintains its feral animal baiting program.