A kangaroo pet food trial is set to hop along for another year.
The Victorian Government announced on Friday that a trial of kangaroo pet food would continue for another year, following calls from the Opposition to lock in its future.
In announcing the program would continue until next March in 16 local government areas, including the Benalla, Strathbogie and Mitchell shires, the government said it would provide certainty for the industry and buy time to assess the program over a longer period.
‘‘The extension will give us time to learn more about what’s working and what isn’t,’’ Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said.
The Nationals had last month pledged to include deer in the program to help control numbers, if the Coalition is elected this year, with State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan spruiking jobs could be created in Stanhope and Seymour from including deer into a state pet food program.
This follows a commitment from the Coalition to allow a kangaroo pet food industry to develop by making the program permanent.
‘‘The kangaroo pet food industry doesn’t need another extension, it needs certainty,’’ Shadow Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said last month.
The trial started in 2014 to help assess the ability of Victoria’s pet food industry to assist in reducing kangaroo carcass waste.
The program makes use of kangaroos that are humanely controlled under conditions, that would otherwise decompose or be buried.
The government said landholders, meat processors and communities had positively received the trial.
The government also did a kangaroo population survey last year, which found the state’s kangaroo population was estimated at 1.4million.
In the next year, this survey will be repeated ‘‘to enable the government to better assess whether changes to management activities under the Authority to Control Wildlife permit system and the trial, is sustainable for Victoria’s kangaroo populations’’.
The trial includes Benalla, Mansfield, Mitchell, Murrindindi and Strathbogie, but not Greater Shepparton.
But the Coalition plan would expand it to all rural and regional local government areas.
State Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell said extending the trial made sense, adding she had heard interest from people in Shepparton for an expansion of the program to the area.
The trial allows landholders to apply for permits for kangaroos sold off for processing into pet food.