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Kangaroo survey takes flight this month over South Australia

Regional

Department for Environment and Water (DEW) staff have begun their 43rd annual aerial survey to determine kangaroo populations in regional South Australia.

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Farmers are being told not to worry about low-flying aircraft buzzing across their properties in the coming weeks, as the annual kangaroo count gets underway.

DEW senior kangaroo ecologist Dr Mclean said that if farmers see the plane flying low overhead they should not be concerned.

“If landholders see the plane don’t be concerned, it’s just the DEW doing their annual kangaroo count,” she said.

Dr McLean said the survey will help determine harvest quotas across the state.

“The survey allows the department to determine kangaroo response to the recent drought over the pastoral land as well as in the wetter agricultural areas,” she said.

A Cessna 206 6-seater light aircraft will fly east-west survey transects at a low level across parts of the state until Friday, 9 July.

The plane will fly 76 metres above ground at a rate of 100 knots while two trained observers count the kangaroos.

Dr Mclean said the highly trained observers take several years to learn the skills.

She said the aerial survey will include the North Flinders, Marree inside the Dog Fence, Marree outside the Dog Fence, North East Pastoral, Eastern Districts, South Flinders, Eyre West and Eyre East harvest subregions.

“An additional survey over parts of the recently opened Southern Agricultural Harvest Region is planned for September when the weather is more suitable,” Dr Mclean said.

This is the second year that the Southern Agricultural Harvest Region has been opened for commercial kangaroo harvesting with the expansion already considered a success.

“The opening of the Southern Agricultural Harvest Region has been a win-win for both the kangaroo industry, who can now access more land, and landholders in the region, who have been provided with assistance in managing kangaroo numbers on their properties,” Dr Mclean said.

DEW supplements the aerial survey with predictive population models to determine kangaroo harvest quotas for the five harvest regions across.

Dr Mclean said the predictive population model developed by the University of Adelaide can more accurately determine kangaroo numbers.

“The population model is based on 43 years of data and uses past and current figures alongside climatic variables, such as rainfall to improve counts,” she said.

The survey results are expected in late November to early December.

This is story is part of Solstice Media’s Regional Showcase series and awards program. Each week we will bring our readers regional news stories that matter as well as some inspirational tales of individuals and communities doing what country people do best – having a go.

If you have a tale to tell or know of one, get in touch at South Australian Regional Showcase.

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