Kangaroo, it’s what’s for dinner.
Experts in Australia are asking citizens to eat more kangaroo meat in order to curtail the rising population of the marsupial, which nearly doubled in six years.
Kangaroos, the national symbol of Australia, have outpaced the population of Australian residents 2 to 1. There were 24 million residents in Australia in 2016 and 44 million kangaroos at last count in 2015. Back in 2009, there were only 27 million ‘roos.
The rise of the kangaroo epidemic has been tied to an abundance of food after heavy rains. The kangaroos are traveling onto citizens’ property in droves and eating vegetation consumed by other animals.
“If you don’t cull the kangaroos or don’t reduce their populations in some way, then you’re going to lose a lot of other biodiversity,” Professor Davis Paton of the University of Adelaide told Australia’s ABC News.
“If we’re going to cull these animals we do it humanely, but we also perhaps should think about what we might use the animals that are killed for,” Paton said, saying that kangaroo meat could be an option.
A kangaroo population boom has caused Australian experts and officials to figure out ways to curtail their effect on the land.
Kangaroo meat has been legal across the country since 1993 and the Australian government recognizes it as safe, lean meat with nutrients and high market potential, if not for the stigma of eating the animal.
“We’ve just been too reluctant to take a stick to them, remove them out of the system sooner, to actually prevent the damage being caused,” Paton said.
The suggestion to cull the creatures has sparked debate among Aussie officials.
Animal Liberation South Australia, an organization against animal cruelty, told ABC they should be sterilized or relocated, while the regional director of the Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Brenton Grear, said they were undertaking destruction measures under the Animal Welfare Act.
Australia is known for their frequent pest problems. Last week was swooping season for aggressive magpies and the country is famous for its “rabbit-proof fence,” to curtail the explosion of rabbits in the country.
In the U.K., Britons are dealing with a similar problem with badgers. The government is extending licenses to hunt badgers, as they have been linked to a spread of bovine tuberculosis.