ABOUT 150 of Tower Hill's kangaroo population have been culled to reduce damage to farming properties surrounding the wildlife reserve.
It comes as there is renewed calls for fencing around the reserve, run by Parks Victoria, to be erected.
Tower Hill resident Michael Wraight called on the state government to erect a fence to protect kangaroos.
He has called on the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) to manage its resources and fence the reserve.
"The DJPR needs to do its job properly and manage its resources correctly and fence the reserve to protect the wildlife contained within it and protect local farms from wildlife damage," he said.
"Until this is done, there must be a moratorium on kangaroo shooting under the Kangaroo Harvesting Program (KHP) in the farms surrounding the reserve."
The KHP was introduced two years ago to enable harvesting of Eastern and Western Grey kangaroos in Victoria, with the plan updated this year.
Under the program, the quota of kangaroos that could be harvested annually in the Otway area was 20,650.
This region covers the Colac Otway, Corangamite, Golden Plains, Greater Geelong, Hobsons Bay, Moyne, Surf Coast, Warrnambool and Wyndham shires.
No more than 10 per cent of Victoria's kangaroo population can be taken through the program.
Mr Wraight said the population of the reserve's kangaroos was quite isolated, with no natural bush bridges between the reserve and other kangaroo habitat areas.
He said the land surrounding the reserve was open farmland, mostly dairy.
Mr Wraight said it was the unfenced paddocks no more than 500 metres from the reserve where kangaroos grazed at night.
"In the last few months there have been about 150 of these shot and processed as pet food under the KPH," he said.
"If the total recommended quota is 10 per cent, why have 50-75 per cent of the population of Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve kangaroos been shot in the last few months?
"This is clearly not sustainable. Are we as a community happy to see a local wildlife population decimated under the banner of harvesting?"
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Mr Wraight said he erected a fence at his property to keep native and domestic animals out.
"It keeps the kangaroos out and in the reserve where they should be," he said.
"The rest of the reserve has old decrepit farm fencing that does nothing to stop the movement of kangaroos from the park into farmland."
Parks Victoria told The Standard the fence at the reserve was not to manage or restrict the movement of wildlife in the area.
"The erection of a fence for this purpose may disrupt biodiversity, including natural breeding practices for wildlife," a spokesperson said.
"Under the Fences Act, the decision to erect fencing between public land (including parks or reserves) and privately owned land is the responsibility or choice of the person or resident who owns the private property."
In an email to the DJPR's kangaroo harvesting department, viewed by The Standard, Mr Wraight asked if shooting 150 kangaroos was a breach of the KHP.
DJPR said the KHP intended to ensure Victoria's kangaroo population was managed in a sustainable way and animal welfare was protected.
"The sustainability of kangaroo populations is protected through annual quotas, in accordance with Victoria's Kangaroo Harvest Management Plan 2021-2023," it said.
"The quota is based on population surveys and modelling by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and is set alongside the estimated numbers of kangaroos controlled under DELWP's Authority to Control Wildlife permit system."
DELWP said there was no cap on the number of kangaroos that could be harvested on an individual property as long as the shooters were authorised, held valid tags for the zone and had permission from the landowner.
Kangaroo harvester Peter Riddle said he agreed the area should be fenced. He was also concerned about kangaroos getting onto the roads.
"The reason why I'd rather it be fenced in there is because they're getting onto the roads and have become a danger," he said.
"I don't want to shoot them there, I want them to be fenced in. I think kangaroo harvesting is a good thing."
He said in a harvest they may shoot 10 in 100 kangaroos.
Mr Riddle said kangaroos bred so well, his role was to reduce the numbers.
"They'll be bouncing back pretty quick," he said. "In the 10 years I've been harvesting, the kangaroo numbers are going up not down."
Mr Wraight said the area long-term needed to be fenced but would create problems for the kangaroos.
"We're fencing the kangaroos in with bad grass, which will cause death," he said. "It's like in Puckapunyal where there's not enough grass, so the kangaroos starve. They get on to farms to eat the good grass."
Mr Riddle said farmers contacted him to harvest the kangaroos from their property.
"You can understand their point of view, because their crops are getting destroyed because there's just so many kangaroos," he said.
"You've got to go to the source, and the source is Tower Hill where they're breeding.
"Kangaroos in the Otway region move around so we don't get a specific amount for a farm because sometimes there's none on a farm, then all of a sudden there's 200."
Mr Riddle said he harvested the kangaroos for human consumption, pet food and other products.
"Nothing gets wasted. The whole thing gets utilised," he said.
"Before the harvesting, we become licensed professionals and do lots of certificates to do what we do."
In 2020, Moyne councillor Jim Doukas said lives were at risk if immediate action wasn't taken to keep wildlife inside the reserve and off the roads.
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