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Friday, December 09, 2005

T10dec05]Wallaby harvesting given OK [

The Mercury: Wallaby harvesting given OK [10dec05]

MORE than 70,000 wallabies and pademelons will be available for harvesting on King Island and Flinders Island under long-awaited management plans released yesterday.

The plans, approved by Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell, pave the way for commercial harvesting of wallabies for export, and provide farmers on the islands with alternative control measures to 1080 poison.

The plans allow for 40,000 bennetts wallabies to be harvested on King Island in 2005-06, and 15,000 bennetts wallabies and 18,750 pademelons on Flinders Island.

The Federal Government said yesterday the plans supported its belief that Australia's natural renewable resources should be used in an ecologically sustainable manner.

Although there has been some commercial harvesting of wallaby meat for the domestic market on King Island particularly, it is understood the greater export demand would be for wallaby skins.

There was criticism earlier in the year from Lenah Game Meats owner John Kelly that limiting management plans to the Bass Strait islands was a mistake.

He said a statewide plan was needed to make an export business viable, as harvesting solely from the islands was costly due to freight charges.

Having battled for seven years for a management plan to be delivered, Mr Kelly said in May that the international fur trade would buy up to 100,000 skins immediately, laying the foundation for a $1million export industry annually.

Wallaby skins, a by-product of the domestic meat industry, are currently just left to rot.

King Is farmers are expected to welcome the plan, although it will have no bearing on surging wallaby populations unless a commercial operator uses it to commence harvesting.

There are thought to be as many as 500,000 bennetts wallabies on King Is, costing farmers millions in lost productivity every year.

A broadscale 1080 poisoning this year on 16 properties drew scathing criticism from groups opposed to the practice, with authorities approving the use of enough poison to kill up to 200,000 wallabies.


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