Kangaroos will be shot and processed for commercial pet food sale for the first time in Victoria under a two-year trial that could value the 69,000 kangaroos killed annually in Victoria at about $1.4 million.
The trial, to be announced on Wednesday and begin on March 31, will only involve kangaroos that would have been killed anyway under wildlife control permits.
The government said it has no plans to extend the trial to use kangaroo meat for the dinner table.
Since 2000, almost 35 million kangaroos have been ''harvested'' in Australia's four other mainland states for table meat and leather products, with exports to more than 55 countries.
The trial commercial use of culled kangaroos in Victoria will include only the eastern grey and western grey and does not alter the state's protected species status of kangaroos - meaning it is illegal to kill kangaroos without a permit.
The RSPCA is on the record as opposing the commercial use of kangaroos culled in Victoria, with concerns animal welfare considerations could become secondary.
The government said under the trial, kangaroos must be killed by shooters listed on the permit and only kangaroos killed with a single shot to the head will be processed.
Each kangaroo is expected to fetch about $20 at the meat processor.
Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said he did not expect the processing of Victorian kangaroos to lead to any more kangaroos being killed in Victoria.
‘‘It will not mean any increase in the wildlife control permits at all, it is just utilising the waste that is there from the current controls,’’ he said.
Mr Walsh said the shot kangaroos would only be used for pet food and there were no plans to use kangaroos culled in Victoria for table meat.
‘‘This is not about eating Victorian kangaroos; this is about utilising the waste from wildlife," he said.
‘‘Currently those people who control kangaroos under a wildlife permit have to bury them, so it is about utilising what is effectively waste,’’ he said.
The government said it would monitor the number of wildlife control applications to prevent a spike in applications from the new industry.
Roly Rivett, owner of Victorian Petfood Processors in Camperdown, said the company’s Hay plant in New South Wales was processing 1000 kangaroos a week for pet food sales in Victoria and the east coast.
He said it was a waste to leave culled kangaroos lying in paddocks.
‘‘We have markets,’’ he said.