Uhunt The Game Meat Industry - How It Began & Where It Is Now

Uhunt Mag Information

  • Posted By : UHUNT APP - Jesse Farr
  • Posted On : Feb 02, 2020
  • Views : 220
  • Description : “lobbying by Animal Activists has led to some regions in the world banning importing of Kangaroo products”


    John has over 30 years experience in the game meat industry as a shooter, box operator and operations manager for wild game resources 

    The game meat industry in Australia had its early beginning in 1960 as a pet food industry. Two young university students Victor Baits and Clifford Dee decided to go on a recreational hunting trip to Bourke In New South Wales. While hunting, they saw the possibility of potentially making money out of harvesting Kangaroo, boning them out and selling the meat back in Sydney for pet food. While they were there, they cut up Kangaroo and packed it in eskies with ice to take back to Sydney. The first lot of meat sold very quickly, so they started a business selling pet food. The government set up a commercial harvesting program through the National Parks and Wildlife to protect the sustainability of the Kangaroo populations, as they are a protected fauna. They only allowed four species of the 45 species of Kangaroo, Wallaby & Wallaroo that exist in Australia to be sustainably harvested. The four species where the Eastern Grey, Western Grey, Red Kangaroo & Wallaroo.

    This system allowed harvesters to be licensed with heavy penalties applied for not complying with license conditions. National Parks and wildlife were to maintain population density by doing survey quotas every 12 months and only allowing a quota of 15 percent of the overall population of each species to be harvested commercially. The states of NSW, QLD & SA were divided into zones, and each zone had a designated quota of 15% of the total population of each zone to be commercially harvested based on each zone being surveyed each year. If any zone population dropped below a total of 250,000, commercial harvesting was ceased immediately for the next 12 months or until the zone could be resurveyed and the population went back above 250,000 again. For the next 30 years, the pet food industry continued to grow, and there were about 30 processing factories throughout QLD, NSW & SA. Kangaroo for pet food meat and their skins were sort after. The skin was used for manufacturing leather goods for a variety of products as Kangaroo skin is considered the strongest leather in the world for its thickness.

    In 1980 Wild Boar which flows throughout most states including NSW and QLD become sort after by European countries for human consumption. At this time, a disease had gone through the European population of wild boar, and this is how the human consumption game meat industry began. In 1993 Kangaroo meat had become known for its high protein, being lean meat and become sort after by European countries for human consumption. Russia was by far the largest importer of Kangaroo as they sorta high protein, low fat, cheaper cut of meat for their salami and sausage production.

    This really kicked the game meat industry into gear, and it boomed into a 600 million dollar a year industry. There were around 25 human consumption processing plants in NSW, QLD & SA. Processing Kangaroo, Wild Boar, and Venison game meat products. One company alone, Wild Game Resources had 160 chillers or buying depots throughout QLD and NSW for local, professional & hobby harvesters to supply product into. Each of these chiller sites produced enormous amounts of money into the outback towns. Even small buying depots turned over $500 000 a year into their respective town. Many of the larger buying depots turned over 1 million dollars a year, sometimes more. The game meat industry had provided literally, tens of thousands of jobs and helped turned struggle rural communities into thriving self-sustaining economies.

    Russia was importing 80% of the Kangaroo meat being exported. In 2008 due to economic and political sanctions being placed on Russia by the United Nations, Russia retaliated by banning meat products from many countries around the world who were members of the United Nations; which included Kangaroo meat from Australia. They then proceeded to put increased funding into their domestic productions of meats to make their country less reliant on imports. This led to a massive hit to the Game Meat Industry in Australia, reducing the market by 80% almost instantly. Since 2008 and the collapse of the Russian market, the game meat industry has struggled to survive. With greenie groups lobbying governments of the world not to buy wild animal products including skins.

    (Deep muscle temperature logger required in all chillers boxes) 

    The Game Meat Industry of today has the strictest regulation ever seen in the industry. Humane dispatch and health standards have increased dramatically, making it the most sustainable and humane way to manage pest animals in this country. Because headshots are required, and shooters don’t get paid unless the animal is shot in the head this all but guarantees the animals will be dispatched in a way that is of the highest humane standard. Other culls can’t guarantee such standards and have no checks or balances in place.

    Harvesters are fined even if animals are shot low in the neck, and they are also required to do accuracy tests to ensure they can put five shots within a 50-millimeter group at 100 meters. This ensures that shooters can maintain very high accuracy in the field, once again a standard that other culling methods are not required to meet. If we are talking about the most humane, effective, and sustainable way to control Kangaroo populations, the game meat industry is by far the clearest solution and has proven to be a solution in the past. It has only become less effective due to market collapses and increased costs.

    (Temperature data print out from logger)

    Red tape and fees have skyrocketed strangling not only processors but also shooters with increased costs. The lobbying by Animal Activists has led to some regions in the world banning importing of Kangaroo products including skins, which were an important part of the industry and are now in most cases worthless. The processors relied on skins sales to effectively offset costs to make production more viable. Activists are oblivious to the fact that the industry was and still is sustainable and led to less suffering to Kangaroos, created jobs, and maintained a sustainable population.

    Now with the industry running at a crawl and close to complete collapse, hundreds of thousands of animals are suffering and dying inhumanly and no greens group or animal activists in talking about this. Instead, the harvester is always the target and blamed for everything. Even the recent documentaries done about Kangaroos have blamed harvesters for animals shot by shotguns or gut shot which we can guarantee was not done by a harvester, but the harvester got the blame none the less. It’s important to note the difference between a shooter and commercial harvesters. They are two very different things.

    Since the decline in the Game meat industry we have seen massive spikes in Kangaroo populations, and massive die-offs during droughts; as well as massive wide-spread culling by Farmers and recreational shooters, some culling methods used have been questionable at the very least and despicable at the worst. Many of you have heard or experienced this so we won’t go into detail because we want to work with farmers to find a better way into the future. Let’s not forget that the Kangaroo is a protected fauna. We, however, want to see the same standards maintained by Harvesters to be complied to by farmers as well. Farmers are not held to the same standards, with no code of practice complied to, no compliance and no random checks of the number of animals or species that the farmers actually cull.

    (Aqis inspector checking each carcass prior to bonning out)

    Our government allows 60 million kilos of wholesome Kangaroo meat to be shot each year and left on the ground to rot with absolutely no compliance or restrictions. We understand the need for it currently but want to see more investment into the Game Meat Industry in the future to bring it back to life so that all this meat can be used and create wealth for rural communities. We understand that Farmers are in a hard position with the drought and being hit from every angle. Being able to get permits to cull large numbers of Kangaroos has relieved some of the pressure on Farming families. We understand the game meat industry is not providing the service that it once did and that culling is needed in a lot of areas by methods other than harvesting.

    (Aqis inspector checking the vital organs for signs of disease)

    We, however, don’t approve of the fact that a national parks officer will pull up at a chiller site and charge a shooter $300 for neck shooting a Kangaroo but then drive out the road past a paddock of dead Kangaroos, and not even look twice. Either restriction and red tape on Harvesters and processors should be loosened or Farmers should have to comply with the same standards as commercial harvesters. We understand that not all farmers are doing the wrong thing, but we want more support from farmers and government to obtain new markets and help turn this pest back into a profitable product for rural communities. It’s hard to see right now, but the industry is good for everyone, including the farmers when it’s able to function at a higher level; as it once did.

    In many areas, farm workers supplement their income by harvesting Kangaroos and pigs on the weekend. This reduces pressure on farmers trying to compete with increased wages, keeps animal numbers under control, and brings more dollars into the local communities. This is becoming less, and less of an opportunity and thousands of families are abandoning the bush for regional cities, with some rural towns losing up to 50% of their population in the last 10 years.

    There are many reports of farmers struggling to find workers now, and we think part of this is the massive decrease in opportunities to not only harvest but to hunt and fish in general. In many cases, its very challenging to raise a family in the bush, economically and socially. Hunting and Fishing is important to the working class on farms and in the bush. This was what kept workers sane in the bush and allowed them to live an easy-going lifestyle. They sacrificed higher wages and many mod cons to live this lifestyle. You take away that, and you take away what living in the bush was all about.

    Some farmworkers are expected to work horrendous hours, live in unmaintained houses, and have limited access to good internet, good schooling, and other services. This is why hunting and fishing are very important to the working class in the bush; it out ways the disadvantages and makes living in the bush more tolerable and enjoyable. Hunting and fishing has enormous value to the mental health of the bush and just about any person young or old can attest to this. We want to see the bush boom again and come back to life, and we believe the game meat industry can help, just as it once did.

    The game meat industry in Australia should be recognized by our own government, as a sustainable natural resource as it could and would be an ongoing food source for generations to come. It’s so stringently regulated; it cannot fail by being unsustainable. It is the only proven way to control pest animals, create wealth, and ensure the animals are humanely dispatched; all at the same time. In 2014 Barnaby Joyce in conjunction with industry lobbied heavily to have Kangaroo listed on the free trade agreement with China, but the hierarchy at the time didn’t agree and chose not to put Kangaroo meat on the free trade agreement. The game meat industry desperately needed this market.

    The industry can’t hang out much longer with some processing plants losing up to five thousand dollars a week on many occasions just to keep the processing plants open. Shooters are leaving the industry due to increased fees, costs, and reduced processing quotas due to fluctuating markets. We need the government to step in and put funding towards the industry so that new markets can be obtained and marketing can be done to correct the lies spread by the animal activists that have no clue of the suffering they have caused and continue to cause. Let’s all work together to find a better way and bring financial opportunities back to the bush and turn pest animals into resources, all while ensuring there is a healthy sustainable population of native Kangaroos.