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State of confusion: Protection of wildlife in Victoria

Life on land

“Wildlife is an important part of our environment and essential to the functioning and health of our ecosystems. All wildlife in Victoria, whether relatively common or of conservation concern, are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975, as is wildlife habitat”. Victorian Government, February 2022

Peter Hylands

December 10, 2023

As of 25/02/2020 - 88 Australian species in Victoria were subject to control by shooting, a subset of those species (22) were further subject to control by trapping or gassing, again a subset of those on the shoot list were also subject to control by trapping and shooting, a further subset of species (12) were subject to control by destruction of eggs and nests.

Mass killing of Australian wildlife authorised by Victorian Government

“So an ATCW permit holder in Victoria can shoot Australian Fur Seals or Pacific Herons, trap and gas Brown Antechinus or destroy the nest (and presumably the young) of a Black Swan. All this represents suffering and cruelty at enormous scale. Not one is likely to be supervised” Peter Hylands 2020

White-winged Chough

Lethal control of Australian species in Victoria and method of control

Method of killing Australian wildlife in Victoria as recommended and authorised by the Victorian Government listed in italic after the name (supplied DELWP 25/2/2020):

  • Australian Fur Seal - shoot
  • Australian King-parrot - shoot
  • Australian Magpie – shoot, trap gas, destroy eggs and nest
  • Australian Magpie Lark - shoot, trap gas
  • Australian Pelican - shoot
  • Australian Raven - shoot
  • Australian Shelduck - shoot
  • Australian White Ibis - shoot, trap gas, destroy eggs and nest
  • Bell Miner - shoot, trap gas, destroy eggs and nest
  • Black Kite - shoot
  • Black Swan – shoot, destroy eggs and nest
  • Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike - shoot
  • Black-tailed Native-hen - shoot
  • Brown Antechinus – trap gas
  • Brown Goshawk – shoot, trap shoot
  • Bush Rat – trap gas
  • Cape Barren Goose - shoot
  • Chestnut Teal - shoot
  • Brushtail Possum – shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  • Ringtail Possum - shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  • Bare-nosed Wombat - shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  • Copperhead - shoot
  • Crimson Rosella - shoot
  • Dingo – shoot, trap shoot, poison
  • Dusky Moorhen – shoot, trap gas, destroy eggs and nest
  • Eastern Brown Snake - shoot
  • Eastern Grey Kangaroo - shoot
  • Eastern Rosella - shoot
  • Emu – shoot (this is a particularly gruesome and cruel activity)
  • Eurasian Coot - shoot, trap gas, destroy eggs and nest
  • Fairy Martin - destroy eggs and nest
  • Galah – shoot, trap gas
  • Great Cormorant - shoot
  • Grey Butcherbird – shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  • Grey Teal - shoot
  • Grey-headed Flying-fox - shoot
  • Hardhead - shoot
  • Highland Copperhead - shoot
  • Koala – secretly euthanised with Ministerial permission
  • Laughing Kookaburra - shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  • Little Black Cormorant - shoot
  • Little Corella - shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  • Little Crow - shoot
  • Little Lorikeet - shoot
  • Little Pied Cormorant - shoot
  • Little Raven - shoot
  • Little Red Flying-fox - shoot
  • Little Wattlebird - shoot
  • Long-billed Corella - shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  • Magpie Goose- shoot
  • Mallee Ringneck - shoot
  • Maned Duck - shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  • Masked Lapwing – shoot, destroy eggs and nest
  • Musk Lorikeet - shoot
  • Noisy Friarbird - shoot
  • Noisy Miner - shoot, trap gas, trap shoot, destroy eggs and nest
  • Pacific Black Duck - shoot
  • Pacific Heron - shoot
  • Pied Currawong - shoot
  • Pink-eared Duck - shoot
  • Plumed Whistling-duck - shoot
  • Purple Swamphen – shoot, destroy eggs and nest
  • Purple-crowned Lorikeet - shoot
  • Rainbow Lorikeet - shoot
  • Red Kangaroo - shoot
  • Red Wattlebird - shoot
  • Red-bellied Black Snake - shoot
  • Red-necked Wallaby - shoot
  • Red-rumped Parrot - shoot
  • Richard's Pipit - shoot
  • Rufous Night Heron - shoot
  • Satin Bowerbird - shoot
  • Scaly-breasted Lorikeet - shoot
  • Silver Gull– shoot, trap gas, destroy eggs and nest
  • Silvereye - shoot
  • Straw-necked Ibis - shoot
  • Sulphur-crested Cockatoo – shoot, trap gas
  • Swamp Rat – trap gas
  • Swamp Wallaby - shoot
  • Tammar Wallaby – shoot (curious indeed, SA mainland species thought extinct until recently and rediscovered in New Zealand)
  • Tiger Snake- shoot
  • Water Rat – shoot, trap gas
  • Welcome Swallow – shoot, trap shoot, destroy eggs and nest
  • Western Brown Snake - shoot
  • Western Grey Kangaroo - shoot
  • White-faced Heron - shoot
  • White-winged Chough – shoot, trap gas
  • Yellow Rosella - shoot
  • Yellow-faced Honeyeater - shoot
  • Yellow-footed Antechinus – trap and gas
  • Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo - shoot
  • Yellow-throated Miner - shoot

The list and number of wildlife to be ‘controlled’ in Victoria are greater than those shown above (which are all on the kill list). It should be noted that within the government tables that provide this information there is an UNSPECIFIED category, which according to the environment department, means scare. While the UNSPECIFIED category has been applied as an alternative in the government table and to many of the species above, there is little evidence, and the department has not been able to provide any, that scaring is an option that is much used for those species listed above (Flying Foxes and a couple of bird species aside). The bullet is by far the most favoured method of ‘control’.

“Before attempting to rehabilitate an animal in an area where population reduction is currently authorised for that species, the long-term welfare of the individual must be carefully considered. The stress of the treatment must be justified in view of habitat suitability, resource availability and potential for future population management at the release site”. Victorian Government, Minister for Agriculture, Published in the Victorian Government Gazette, 23 November 2000

The actual number of native animals now being killed in Victoria with government sanction and all too often promotional activities, is staggering. This behaviour is entirely the opposite to what the function of government, in relation to the environment and conservation of native species, ought to be. How did Victoria get to this?

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

“The conservation, welfare and sustainability of wildlife is under increasing pressure from threats such as loss and fragmentation of habitat, introduced pests such as foxes and cats, illegal take from the wild, wildlife trafficking, climate change and growing human populations. All activities involving wildlife must consider impacts on individual animal welfare and on sustainability of populations”. Victorian Government, February 2022

Australian Raven

Authority to control wildlife permits

It is important to note that the ATCW approval documents for control of wildlife, given to the applicants who want to destroy wildlife, have the following categories for the destruction of wildlife (there is no scaring option on the approval form):

  • Shoot only
  • Trap and release
  • Trap and gas
  • Trap and shoot
  • Egg and nest destruction
  • Other (must specify method/s below)

All the completed forms I have seen have the shoot option circled, on occasional forms no method was selected.

Emu

Zoonoses

We all have a good sense that destroying the natural environment, ever bringing human populations in closer contact to increasingly stressed wildlife, the bush meat trade (an industrial scale trade in Australia including Victoria, and increasingly it is the case that mixed species, wild caught, are transported and stored together before processing) and factory farms, are a combination that has the potential to be very dangerous for human populations globally.

“A number of diseases can be transmitted to humans from wild animals. These diseases are called 'zoonoses', and some can be fatal. All wildlife rehabilitators should respect the potential for disease transmission and use sound preventative measures”. Victorian Government, Minister for Agriculture, Published in the Victorian Government Gazette 23 November 2000

Also from the Victorian Government Gazette, some commonly occurring zoonotic diseases are:

  • Ornithosis (Psittacosis)
  • Salmonellosis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Leptospirosis
  • Yersiniosis
  • Pasteurellosis
  • Lyssa Virus
  • fungal and yeast infection (including ringworm and thrush)
  • parasitic skin diseases (scabies, lice and ticks).

Kangaroos

“Victorian Kangaroo meat is set to be tossed on to barbecues in the new year as the Andrews government approves the Aussie icon being processed for human consumption”. Weekly Times, December 2020

“All hunted macropod species (commercial as well as non-commercial hunt) show a positive seroprevalence for T. gondii. This seroprevalence is influenced by various factors, such as sex or habitat…Despite this risk, neither Australia nor New Zealand currently have food safety checks against food borne pathogens. These conditions can pose a significant health risk to the population. Especially, since cases of toxoplasmosis have already been successfully traced back to insufficiently cooked Kangaroo meat in the past”. Toxoplasma gondii in Australian macropods (Macropodidae) and its implication to meat consumption, Yannick Borkens, Elsevier, 2021

Eastern Grey Kangaroo
“Given the difficulties identifying indospicine in pet meat, dog owners are reminded that they should not feed their pet any fresh or frozen raw pet meat sourced from (name with held) between 31 May and 3 July. All kinds of pet meat fitting that description should be considered at risk of indospicine contamination, due to the blending of pet meats, including products described as beef and Kangaroo pet meat”. Primesafe and Agriculture Victoria statement indospicine in pet meat – warning to dog owners, July 2021