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2023: Authorities to control wildlife in Victoria, how many?

Life on land

“Each year we have a deep sense of sadness that people living in Victoria are requesting permits to kill such an array of Australian species, everything from swallows to wombats, and in such large numbers. That the government gives them approval is even harder to fathom”. Peter Hylands

Peter and Andrea Hylands

April 30, 2024

Landing image - yes they are even going after Purple Swamphens! And Cormorant species, not to mention the Lorikeets. Why?

The data describes an alarming increase in the number of native Australian animals being killed in Victoria in 2023 using Authority to control wildlife permits (ATCWs). The ATCW statistics for Victoria in 2023 (all Australian species) are as follows:

  • For lethal control, 2,482 permits were issued to kill 119,367 native animals covering 57 native species. The number of native animals targeted for lethal control is significantly higher than in 2021 and 2022; and
  • For non-lethal control, 81 permits were issued to ‘move on’ 15,847 native animals covering 39 native species.

The actual number of Australian native animals killed or ‘moved on’ is unknown as records are not kept. It appears that the number of native animals killed on public lands, National and State parks etc, is monitored and the data is held by the Victorian Government.

Given the secretive Koala killing spree in 2022, it seems odd that the 2023 ATCW list includes Koalas, with just one non-lethal permit for just twenty Koalas issued in 2023. The lethal column has a zero. The questions to ask are do the Victorian Government's Koala killing efforts remain off the books or is the current resistance to issuing permits for their relocation doing just that job of lethal control?

Why would you ever want to kill any of these animals in this story? And in Victoria they are killed in vast numbers and in the most cruel ways you can ever imagine. Very nasty indeed and if you get in the way of the killing, see what happens to you.


Just to ensure this slaughter is as unsustainable as possible the quota for Grey Kangaroos (non-commercial ATCWs) in 2023 was supposed to be 69,600, instead the Victorian Government issued permits to kill 74,450 of these wonderful animals.

For those animals subject to lethal control 83,056 were Kangaroos or Wallabies. That is 69.5 per cent of all Australian native animals targeted in Victoria. Given the shockingly inaccurate population estimates for Kangaroos in Victoria (hyper-inflated), it is most unlikely that this number of animals was actually killed in 2023.

The Victorian Government and its recent string of Environment Ministers continue to ignore advice that the combination of the recent commercial exploitation of Kangaroos in Victoria (trial from 2014, full exploitation from late 2019) will inevitably destroy populations of these engaging animals across the state. Worse again, the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos extends into public lands, including State and National Parks, at the beginning of 2025.

This compares with 2022:

2,428 permits were issued for the lethal 'control' of 90,301 Australian mammals and birds covering 52 native species.

In total 59 native species appeared on the ATCW list in 2022, of which 7 species were listed as 'controlled' by non-lethal methods only, of which three were reptile species.

Permits issued for non-lethal 'control' totalled 115, covering 36 species and 29,261 animals, the majority of which were for scaring off birds. There were 4,665 Grey-headed Flying-foxes on the non-lethal list, harassing these animals does have fatal results.

This compares to 2021:

For the first time in 2021 the Victorian Government provided a split between lethal and non-lethal permits. Just 2.6 per cent of the permits issued were for non-lethal control.

The total numbers of animals reported killed through the ATCW system was lower because of exclusions which include permits not being required, the commercial trade in wildlife is also excluded from the ATCW data, including no published account of the young animals killed (there are very many), killing of Koalas and so on. The split is as follows:

  • In 2021 a total of 2,573 lethal permits were issued to kill 89,364 native Australian animals – this number is a long way from telling the complete story of how many native animals were killed in the year); and
  • Non-lethal permits – 69 (that was a total of 2,082 native animals from the general control list plus the scaring of 5,470, Corellas and Cockatoos).

Most targeted species for lethal control in Victoria since 2009

This list gives the number of animals targeted since 2009 to 2023, including total number of animals targeted since 2009 and in brackets, number targeted in 2023.

Remember the government does not know the actual number of animals killed (more or less?) as reporting actuals is not required. So there is effectively no control.

NOTE: Figures below do not include deaths of juvenile animals (ie in pouch joeys)
NOTE: + = killing rate increasing


  • Eastern Grey Kangaroo Macropus giganteus – 1,243,711 (68,104) + (does not include killing for commercial gain).
  • Silver Gull Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae – 112,130 (12,445) +
  • Western Grey Kangaroo Macropus fuliginosus – 88,898 (6,346) + (does not include killing for commercial gain)
  • Red Kangaroo Macropus rufus – 83,159 (6,780) +
  • Long-billed Corella Cacatua tenuirostris – 68,373 (1,485) +
  • Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea – 50,355 (1,325)
  • Maned (Wood) Duck Chenonetta jubata – 49,544 (3,128) + (does not include mass killing for ‘recreation’)
  • Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita – 42,495 (926)
  • Rose-breasted Cockatoo (Galah) Eolophus roseicapilla – 42,054 (608)
  • Australian Raven Corvus coronoides – 37,120 (2,354) +
  • Bare-nosed Wombat Vombatus ursinus – 37,091 (1,902) + 
  • Swamp or Black Wallaby Wallabia bicolor – 23,834 (1,456)
  • Musk Lorikeet Glossopsitta concinna – 23,145 (1,120)
  • Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus moluccanus – 15,486 (1,161) +
  • Emu Dromaius novaehollandiae – 13,131 (557) +
  • Red-necked (Bennett’s) Wallaby Macropus rufogriseus  – 9,316 (370) +


  • Grey-headed Flying-Fox Pteropus poliocephalus – 66,598 (the act of ‘moving on’ for these animals can be lethal, particularly for young animals)

New species entering the ATCW list in Victoria in 2022 and 2023

A number of new Australian species (not present in the list since 2009) enter the list of ATCW species to be killed or ‘moved on' in 2022 and 2023. These are:

  • Australasian Gannet (L) (added 2022)
  • Australasian Pipit (NL)
  • Banded Lapwing (L) (added 2022)
  • Cattle Egret (L) (added 2022)
  • Crested Pigeon (NL)
  • Little Lorikeet (L)
  • Pied Cormorant (L)
  • Red Rump-tailed Parrot (NL)

NOTE: L= lethal / NL= non-lethal

The Deer Conundrum

Non-native animals also appear in the ATCW annual reports including Deer. When I reported on the ATCWs issued in 2020 and 2021, I made these comments about Deer, which apart from one species, the Hog Deer, are missing in the 2023 report - other species of Deer have been removed from the list. Why, is the question?

Here are my comments from the 2021 ATCW report:

“In Victoria, in what appears to be a consistent pattern, in 2020 the ATCW permits (number of animals targeted) issued for the Eastern Grey Kangaroo (for the Kangaroo, mitigation permits only, excludes commercial) was 102 times more than for the Red Deer, 29 times that of Fallow Deer and 7 times that of Sambar Deer. It is quite remarkable that when it comes to species being targeted by ATCW permits, that native species should take centre stage. Statistics for 2021 repeat that pattern”. Peter Hylands