News

Winton Wetlands study kangaroo population

By Simon Ruppert

The Winton Wetlands ecology team has been carrying out surveys to determine if there is a need for controlling local kangaroo populations.

Eastern grey kangaroos and black-tailed swamp wallabies were surveyed using line-transect methodology from sunrise to 9.30am - when the species are more likely to be active.

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A total of 65km of transects spread throughout the Winton Wetlands reserve were surveyed on three separate occasions.

Results revealed:

● an average of 640 eastern grey kangaroos observed per survey;
● an average of eight black-tailed swamp wallabies observed per survey; and
● kangaroo density of 0.33 per hectare (estimated using conventional distance sampling methods).

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Based on these results, surveyors estimate the reserve holds about 3000 kangaroos.

“These densities are less than half of the suggested target density of one kangaroo per hectare for grasslands, and also below the economic carrying capacity of 0.5 kangaroos per hectare,” Winton Wetlands restoration ecologist Lisa Farnsworth said.

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These results will be incorporated into a Winton Wetlands Kangaroo Management Plan that will detail the following:

● kangaroo survey methods and results;
● fence removal to reduce road safety concerns;
● new vegetation monitoring techniques; and
● future student research opportunities.

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“The survey results, combined with our highly successful revegetation program have led us to conclude that, from an ecological perspective, active kangaroo control on the reserve is unnecessary at this stage,” Dr Farnsworth said.

In addition to the recent survey work, Winton Wetlands, in partnership with the Friends of Winton Wetlands have started removing 12km of unnecessary roadside fencing on the reserve.

The fencing being removed opens the reserve to create a safer path for native species to disperse and will reduce the likelihood of them becoming trapped in the fences or ‘funnelled’ along the roadway.

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On a statewide scale, the Victorian Government has recently started a permanent Kangaroo Harvesting Program to control increasing kangaroo populations.

The new program is administered by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, and includes strict safeguards to ensure harvesting is carried out at a sustainable level, that animal welfare standards are met, and that the livelihoods of local farmers are protected.

● Landowners or harvesters interested in being involved in kangaroo harvesting program should visit agriculture.vic.gov.au

● For more information, email [email protected] or phone 136 186.