Authorities to control wildlife in Victoria: How many are issued?
Life on land
Your support will assist us to continue our research and content development, the greater our resources, the more we can do.
The more we have an accurate understanding of what is happening to nature, the more we can all do to protect what remains of our living planet.
This is also an opportunity for philanthropists to be part of an ongoing project that tells independent stories about the natural world, stories that will help us to better understand what is happening to species and places on our precious planet Earth.
Note: Creative Cowboy Films does NOT have tax deductible charity status.
Becoming a member of Creative cowboy films The Nature Knowledge Channel is a very real way you can help the precious natural world and support the work we do in creating knowledge about what is happening to it.
The Nature Knowledge Channel is a very real way you can help the precious natural world and support the work we do in creating knowledge about the natural world.
Annual membership of the Creative cowboy films - Nature Knowledge Channel gives you full access to content, stories and films, available on this website. Becoming a member of the Creative cowboy films - Nature Knowledge Channel is a very real way you can help the natural world and support our work in creating a greater understanding about what is happening to it.
A point of difference
Creative cowboy films is independent, is not funded by governments or industry, and is not influenced by their associated interest groups. For reasons of independent research and content development, Creative cowboy films does NOT have tax deductible charity status.
Life on land
I have asked the Victorian Government a series of questions regarding native animals being killed by government permit In Victoria (latest March 2023), all of which should be reported in the annual ATCW data.
What we are noticing is that more and more of the native wildlife that is being killed in Victoria is not appearing in the annual ATCW data. The number of native animals killed and not reported through the ATCW system looks to be substantial.
One of the questions I have asked the Victorian Government (Q5) follows –
Question five – when will the ATCW data for 2022 be published and of all the native animals that were killed through various government schemes and mechanisms, data from which schemes and mechanisms that enable the killing of native wildlife will be excluded from having to report the killing via ATCW reports (Koalas and the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos, numbers of joeys killed, non protected species, mass killing of birdlife for recreation are examples)?
The point being, we need to have a comprehensive list of what is actually being killed, rather than departmentalised schemes and mechanisms, some of which are not reported (and some appear secretive) that do not allow the public to get a proper understanding of the true scale of the killing. Unless, that is, they spend hours wading through obscure and hard to find government documents or be bothered to go through the hurdles and expense of an FOI request.
This section gives the number of Authority to control wildlife permits (ATCWs) by species issued by the Victorian Government 2009-2021 (excludes killing of wildlife for commercial purposes and pouched and at-foot joeys and other young from 2019 and other categories mentioned in this analysis).
In 2017 the ATCW report contained this information. ATCWs are sometimes issued for the non-lethal control of some threatened species as follows:
It also looks like ATCW permits for snake species can be / are for relocation and the * first set of Common Long-necked Tortoise numbers look like an error.
So Australian mammal and bird species are the main victims in the ATCW system, which, given the global race to extinction of many hundreds of thousands of species, should be seen as an anachronism and as such needs to end. There is no excuse for the level of killing, horrific on a global scale.
What can go very badly wrong with the ATCW system is demonstrated by the fate of the Red Kangaroo. In 2017, ATCW permits were issued to, I assume Parks Victoria, to kill 15,187 Red Kangaroos. The Victorian Government population estimate for the Red Kangaroo in 2017, following the Kangaroo survey that year, was just 13,000 animals. So permits issued exceeded the entire state population estimate by 2,187 animals.
The first number in bold is the number of permits issued, the second number in bold is the number of animals to be controlled. Of all the ATCW permits I have seen over the years I have never seen any that were for non-lethal control.
NOTE: Non-lethal ATCWs issued in 2021 not included in the above statistics.
For the first time in 2021 the Victorian Government has 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 is lower than it was because of exclusions which include permits not being required, the commercial trade in wildlife is excluded including no published account of the young animals killed (there are very many), killing of Koalas and so on. The split is as follows:
This has meant the language on the reports has changed – before 2021 and for the split between lethal and non-lethal ‘control’ the story was this:
“Lethal control of wildlife is only considered when practical non-lethal methods were unsuccessful at resolving the problem or are impractical to implement”.
In 2021 it had changed to:
“In 2021, no ATCWs were issued for lethal control of any species listed as threatened under Victorian or Commonwealth legislation”.
There is no understanding by the government departments administrating the ATCW permit system as to what actually happens and how many animals are actually killed, it can be less or more than the permit allows and there is no way of telling (the exception is the mass killing of Australian wildlife in State and National Parks in Victoria, for which the government gets reports on the ATCWs it issues to Parks Victoria which gives the actual number of animals killed, but it is near impossible to get this information).
Top 5 species (out of 55 native species) in the firing line in 2021 by number to be controlled by ATCWs permits:
The Deer conundrum: 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.
The list of native animals targeted by ATCWs in 2022 was published in April 2023. Here are some key points. Three native species appear to have entered the list for lethal control for the first time, these are the Australasian Gannet, the Banded Lapwing and the Cattle Egret.
I remember only too well the struggle to save the Cape Barren Goose from extinction.
“ATCWs were issued for lethal control of two species (Australasian Gannets and Cape Barren Geese) which are listed marine species under the EPBC Act. The designated conservation status of both species is least concern”. Conservation Regulator, Victorian Government
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. In total 2,428 permits were issued for the lethal 'control' of 90,301 Australian mammals and birds covering 52 native 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.
Australian mammals come off very badly as nearly all mammals 'controlled' in 2022 were by lethal methods. Kangaroos head the list of targeted species even though there is now over-exploitation of these animals for commercial purposes not accounted for here.
Of all permits issued in 2022, 4.5 per cent were for non-lethal control compared to 2.6 per cent in 2021.
In 2017 / 2018/ 2019 I asked the Victorian Government a series of questions about the use of ATCWs in the state, which they answered.
NOTE: 1080 baits are and have been used extensively in Victoria and other programs continue.
NOTE: Far from the transparency the Victorian Government pretends, I have had great difficulty in extracting information about the government’s own wildlife killing activities relating to Australian wildlife on public lands including state and national parks (particularly at the time of the fires). After initially refusing to provide the information, the request has been subject to a series of FOI requests and more recently Questions on Notice in the Victorian Parliament.
I asked the Victorian Government’s Conservation Regulator, who is responsible for the ATCW system in Victoria, what occurred during the terrible floods in Victoria in late 2022 and early 2023 and if ATCWs were part of the response to the flooding. We were on the New South Wales side of the floods during that period and it was yet another bad time for the nature of Australia.
"During this extended event, DEECA’s (was DELWP) wildlife emergency response focused on addressing critical animal welfare issues through the provision of food to wildlife isolated by flood waters and humane euthanasia of animals assessed to be suffering. As you can appreciate due to both access issues and the types of wildlife involved, relocation and traditional rehabilitation approaches were not generally feasible.
Approximately 2,000 Kangaroos are believed to have died or were humanely euthanised at Beveridge Island as a result of the flooding. In addition, an Authority To Control Wildlife (ATCW) was issued to support the ongoing flood response along the Murray River system. Under this ATCW, 1185 Western Grey Kangaroos; 387 Red Kangaroos; 59 Eastern Grey Kangaroos; 4 Black Wallabies and 51 Emus were humanely euthanised based on assessment protocols developed in consultation with experienced wildlife vets.
The ATCWs issued to the DEECA Incident Controller will be included in the 2022 ATCW Report. This will include the maximum number authorised for control.
It is expected that annual data for ATCWs and the Kangaroo Harvest Program (for 2022) will be publicly available from April 2023.
I also wish to assure you that no ATCWs have been issued for the lethal control of Koalas in 2023. Authorisations have been issued to land managers to undertake health assessments and fertility control at a number of locations where there is risk of overpopulation or other health issues negatively impacting animal welfare. These health assessments are undertaken in by experienced wildlife vets who may euthanise animals which are suffering and unlikely to be able to be rehabilitated for release back to the wild".