Victoria's kangaroo pet food harvesting program should resume in fire-affected areas as a matter of urgency, according to the Victorian Farmers Federation.
The program to commercially harvest kangaroos started in Victoria in October 2019, however, a hold was placed on the program in the north-east and East Gippsland after fears were raised the state's roo population could have been decimated during the December/January bushfires.
The state-wide ban placed on the program in early January has since been limited to the two fire-ravaged regions in Victoria's east.
But Victorian Farmers Federation Livestock Group chair Leonard Vallance said it was important the program resumed in places like East Gippsland where kangaroos populations had been historically moderate.
"It's a fluid situation at the moment and given these fire-affected areas have had rain recently, if there's green pick and the assessment is made that the kangaroos are overgrazing the green pick so the country can't recover then the kangaroos need to be removed," Mr Vallance said.
Quotas set by the state government indicate 4000 roos were permitted to be harvested in East Gippsland prior to the devastating fires, while in the north-east the quota set was considerably higher at 12,500.
"Anything is better than shooting kangaroos and letting them rot in the paddocks so the harvesting provided employment in rural areas, it provided a protein source for the pet food industry and up to 50-60 jobs across regional Victoria," Mr Vallance said.
"You've got to look at the number of kangaroos that would've been getting harvested out of those areas and in the short term it's understandable that people want to assess the situation and see where the roo populations are but we would like to see the program re-assessed in the winter time.
"Bear in mind, farmers are still able to obtain shoot and drop permits for those areas ... but to be fair the government is probably still getting a handle on how much country has been burnt."
A spokeswoman for the state government said it was unclear when the program would resume in the north-east and East Gippsland, however, quota requests would continue as normal in the Mallee, Upper Wimmera, Lower Wimmera, Central and Otway harvest zones.