Author Archives: Eve Kelly

Anatomy of an Overseas Campaign

When we look at the possible modern reasons as to why kangaroos are still maligned as ‘pests’, even in drought when their numbers crash, it becomes obvious when you discover the economic benefit big business and government have for perpetuating the misinformation.

Read on, in this excerpt from a forthcoming book by Maria Taylor on Australia’s deadly relationship with its wildlife since colonial times, with a focus on the most persecuted species in modern times, the large kangaroos.
*Copyrighted material, links in red, pic by C. Lynn

Critical overseas views on Australia’s treatment of its wildlife (and that includes the well-loved koala) continues to shine a strong spotlight that hardly penetrates domestically. Australia is not alone in believing its cultural myths and values are civilised while other cultures are barbaric (whale hunts being exhibit A). But overseas critics looking at Australia see an economic narrative steeped in colonial myth and a casual attitude to native animal suffering. VIVA!, the British vegan and animal welfare organisation, across two decades has successfully created a consumer campaign to stop the sale of kangaroo meat in that country’s supermarkets. They have been able to convince celebrities like footballer David Beckham to live without kangaroo leather. Here’s their story as told to me. ‘Killing for Kicks’ Film- Warning Contains Disturbing Footage

“In 1994, shortly after the launch of Viva!, our attention was drawn to a new ‘product’ range in Tesco’s meat chillers, simply labelled ‘kangaroo steaks’. We discovered that this so-called delicacy was the product of the largest slaughter of land based wildlife in history – hunted at night in the vast outback, with powerful four-track vehicles and mesmerising search lights, the startled animals are shot, supposedly in the head.
We obtained video footage of a kangaroo shooter in action, exposing a cruel and barbaric blood bath. The footage showed animals being shot in the throat, their legs slashed open, a hook inserted and they were hauled on to the back of the vehicle, still gasping in agony. Large, still-conscious males were dragged up by their testicles.
“When females were shot, the first action of the killer was to search their pouches for babies. Having found one, he threw it to the ground and stamped on it, grinding his heel on the ‘joey’s’ head. He walked away, leaving it writhing. Obviously, there is no justification for this wildlife massacre and our research revealed the excuses offered by the Australian government were lies.

“Determined to stop this cruelty we targeted Tesco – persistently campaigning for two years to show the truth of the matter to consumers. We printed specific materials for their customers, organising hundreds of local groups outside their stores to distribute it, and supplied information to the media. The culmination was a double-page spread in the News of the World on kangaroo killing; Tesco dropped the trade four days later. That was 26 September 1997. As a result Somerfield also dropped sales, cancelling an entire frozen food range.

“In 1998, Viva!’s director Juliet Gellatley was invited to Australia by various wildlife groups and created a storm of controversy – doing about 50 media interviews and a press conference at Canberra’s Parliament House filmed live on national and regional TV news. She returned to the UK to reinvigorate the campaign – including a demonstration outside Sainsbury’s supermarket’s headquarters in London on 24 July 1998.

“Actress, Pam Ferris, cut up her Sainsbury’s loyalty card in an act of defiance against the industry in front of Australian and British radio and TV cameras. It was followed the next day with 100 demonstrations in the UK outside Sainsbury’s stores and in Australia at restaurants that sold the meat.

“Representatives of the killing industry came to the Brighton demo, desperate to protect their markets. It did them no good because Sainsbury’s also dumped ‘roo meat, followed closely by all major supermarkets – 1,500 stores in all. It led to Juliet being presented with the Australian Wildlife Protection Council award for services to wildlife.”

Despite the victory in Britain, sales of kangaroo meat and leather continued in Australia and the global market was on the rise. Hoping to spread the word and save “these unique and wonderful animals from further persecution” ’Juliet Gellatley returned to Australia in 2002. She appeared on the popular 60 Minutes, exposing key issues with the kangaroo slaughter. She visited the home of a kangaroo shooter to debate the industry. The hope was to build a collaborative network across countries. To some extent that has succeeded.
Viva! told me in 2006 they had another win when, after a four year campaign, David Beckham finally ditched his controversial kangaroo skin football boots in favour of synthetic ones reinforcing their Save the Kangaroo campaign.

Their next victory was in 2008 when they congratulated Booker cash and carry for taking an ethical lead and dropping sales of ‘exotic meat’, including kangaroo, to help preserve species ”after a meeting in which we provided compelling evidence of the cruelty and unsustainable nature inherent in the kangaroo trade. A second leading cash and carry company, Makro, removed sales of kangaroo meat due to similar concerns in 2009.

Kangaroo skin football boots made the headlines once again in 2011, after it was discovered that large manufacturers (such as Adidas) were moving away from using the leather due to pressure from Viva! and other groups. The big four (Adidas, Nike, Umbro and Puma) still use kangaroo leather to some degree. (https://www.savethekangaroo.com/kick-cruelty-out Viva, 2018)

Kangaroo meat began making a resurgence in British supermarkets around 2013 when budget chain Lidl introduced a promotional burger range and the Viva! story continued. “We launched an ongoing campaign calling for an end to trade in kangaroo, which secured major press coverage in The Sun newspaper. It didn’t stop there as frozen food giant Iceland followed suit in 2015 with the introduction of so-called ‘exotic meats’ – including kangaroo.

“Another supermarket chain, Morrisons, was also slammed in the national media for putting consumers at risk by selling kangaroo steaks and recommending the meat be cooked “medium rare”. Soon after the deluge of emails from Viva! supporters Morrisons too dumped the range.

As kangaroo meat returned to both Tesco and Sainsbury’s Viva! Moved quickly to condemn them publicly and soon both chains again dropping sales. The latest supermarket victory came with Lidl and Iceland dropping their kangaroo meat lines in 2018.
Significant animal welfare issues and health concerns had been forwarded to Lidl UK’s Managing Director.”

This model campaign, carried out over two decades, showed how persistent the Australian kangaroo killers have been but also that persistence in return paid off.

https://www.savethekangaroo.com/kick-cruelty-out

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Andrew’s Government is set to kill baby koalas, and other ‘protected wildlife’ that survive bush fire!- Write to Government Now!

Update posted by Eve Kelly 10th Jan 2020

Re: https://au.news.yahoo.com/first-responders-directed-to-kill-baby-koalas-on-fire-ground-061755955.htm and the AWPC’s 2018 website article https://awpc.org.au/andrews-government-is-set-to-kill-baby-koalas-and-other-protected-wildlife-that-survive-bush-fire-write-to-government-now/

On Jan 10th 2020, Andy Meddick MP published a response, from DELWP, saying the recent media on the fire ground rescue of wildlife is ‘categorically untrue’. It is also being reported that this story is ‘fake news’ and in light of the current BOT situation it is very damaging if the public thinks that real news is fake.

DELWP’s statement (below) relates closely to a Yahoo article and an article that was published on the Australian Wildlife Protection Council’s (AWPC) website in 2018. The article was written by wildlife advocates and me. I am the former Secretary of the AWPC, former employee of Wildlife Victoria and wildlife rescuer and shelter operator for the past 10 years.

Andy Meddick MP reported on Facebook:

UPDATE 09/01

Today I had a forthright phone conference with key DEWLP figures and the Minister’s Senior Advisor.

I bluntly put to them the issues facing rescuers and carers, as well as concerns expressed online about rescuing young wildlife.

I have been able to facilitate a meeting between wildlife rescue & carer representatives and DEWLP next week to advance the plan for better response – and they’ve also issued a statement on the rescue of young wildlife, which is below.

They also told me that these are the guidelines in place at the fire zone: https://bit.ly/36xu1OF
(* Please note the above document is a copy of the Wildlife Shelter and Foster Carer Authorisation (WSFCA) and not the Fire Response Manual in question—DELWP have not yet addressed the Fire Response manual that they gave to vets and wildlife rescuers during training in 2018 (and possibly 2019))

I promised I would get this for you – and here it is. I’m also committed to keeping this discussion with them ongoing, and of course, keeping them accountable.

I hope you will all understand that at this time, it’s difficult for me to continue to answer all comments but I am doing my best to get information to you.

There’s a lot of work to be done to get change enacted for wildlife. I will be working hard on it over the coming weeks, and I also intend to continue to make as many trips into affected areas as I can with medical supplies and food.

Thank you all for your passion, dedication and patience.

Eve Kelly writes:
I thought you might be interested in some more information proving that DELWP are producing concerning material, in more than one form, about the rescue and care of Australian wildlife.

This issue resurfaced after members of the public read an article the AWPC published, back in Dec 2018. It was not written in response to the current bush fires. Now that the current crisis has put wildlife in the spotlight, people are researching wildlife, and so came across and shared the 2018 AWPC article.

In 2018, the AWPC was contacted by wildlife rescuers and carers about a fire ground document ‘Victorian Response Plan for Wildlife Impacted by Fire pdf’, pg. 26′ (Response Plan), being used by DELWP in fire ground wildlife rescue training. They were understandably concerned. It is not a public document to my knowledge. The AWPC article (not DELWP’s doc) was written in conjunction with experienced wildlife advocates.

It is purely DELWP’s information in the Response Plan that was discussed and reported on by the AWPC. For DELWP to continue to act dishonestly, confuse and concern the public and to pit wildlife volunteers against one another is very concerning indeed.

For the record, in relation to Andy Meddick MP’s statement today, no one has made any claims about, or taken information out of the Wildlife Shelter and Foster Carer Authorisation (WSFCA). It’s the 2018 Response Plan manual that gives the concerning and contradictory information.

Pinky joeys (eyes closed, furless, under-developed) on and off the fire ground, are rarely viable. Of course, if an animal is burnt or injured so badly that it can’t be rehabilitated, and is suffering, it is best to euthanase—a decision rescuers and shelters deal with every day. For DELWP to imply that wildlife carers/rescuers would want wildlife to suffer is insulting.

DELWP’s Response Plan was given to wildlife rescuers during DELWP fire ground training in 2018 and possibly in 2019. It is worth noting that very similar ‘ideas’ were floated in the ATCW review document DELWP, also published in 2018 ‘https://engage.vic.gov.au/download_file/11287/1422’. They are DELWP’s words not ours.

DELWP states that the information circulating is categorically untrue, but then only goes onto explain the WSFCA. No one is disputing the WSFCA, at this stage. But they have not addressed why they printed the following in the 2018 Response Plan on p26:

‘Rehabilitation of orphaned milk-dependent pouch young of common species such as macropods and koalas is not supported as these animals require significant long term care and cannot be successfully returned to the wild.’

 

Considerations for euthanasia

General indications that an animal should be

euthanised are:

  • burns that cover more than 15% of the total body surface area (see Figure 4). This is likely to have occurred when most of the body hair is singed. For example, a koala with four feet burnt, top and bottom with burns to nose, chin and eyes
  • evidence of severe dehydration suggestive of renal failure
  • presence of an infectious disease
  • broken limbs
  • orphaned milk dependent pouch young
  • genetic or other deformities.’

As you can see, they don’t mention pinkies (eyes closed, furless), the only say ‘milk dependant young’ and then go on to imply that they can’t be hand-raised and released successfully back into the wild. They need to remove this material from their documents, as it is categorically untrue!

Why does DELWP have this dishonest approach?

The Response Plan’s intro says ‘The Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) is the designated lead agency for wildlife welfare arising from a declared emergency as defined in the Emergency Management Manual Victoria (EMMV).

The purpose of this manual is to provide:

  • the policy context and planning framework for the safe, humane and efficient response to wildlife impacted by fire.

This includes:

– minimising risks to health and safety of personnel and the public

– responding to wildlife welfare arising from the incident and treat impacted wildlife as humanely as possible

– creating a framework to enable the safe involvement of volunteer organisations

– encouraging the involvement of volunteer organisations and the wider community, wherever it is safe and reasonable to do so

– managing incidents efficiently and cost effectively

  • current ‘best practice’ standard operating procedures and protocols for assessing, treating and rehabilitating wildlife impacted by fire in Victoria, and
  • a training manual for responders.

This manual focuses on the processes that must be followed by all individuals participating in response and recovery activities in relation to wildlife impacted by fire and planned burning.

Wildlife response activities may also arise from other emergency incidents such as floods or toxic and hazardous chemical spills. While the emergency response roles and structures should mirror those defined in this manual, the detail of how to respond to these types of emergency incidents are not covered by this manual. Compliance with this manual is a requirement of all individuals participating in response and recovery activities relating to wildlife affected by fire. Any plan, instruction, prescription, training or guideline developed for wildlife welfare response activities in Victoria must be consistent with this manual.

Audience

The audience for this document is:

  • Incident Management Team members undertaking fire response or planned burning activities where wildlife either have been impacted or there is a potential for them to be impacted
  • DELWP regional and State controllers (as a reference document)
  • Agency staff deployed to undertake wildlife rescue activities
  • Veterinarians undertaking wildlife triage, and
  • Personnel in DELWP conducted training.

Review

This manual will be reviewed on an annual basis to consider changes in legislation, governance arrangements, policies and procedures as well as to apply learnings from research and field experience and feedback from the community, stakeholders

and incident personnel.’

The Response Plan states, This manual focuses on the processes that must be followed by all individuals participating in response and recovery activities in relation to wildlife impacted by fire and planned burning.’ It doesn’t say it is superseded by the WSFCA. This isn’t the first time DELWP has released contradictory information. It also says, ‘Any plan, instruction, prescription, training or guideline developed for wildlife welfare response activities in Victoria must be consistent with this manual’.

So, who is being categorically untrue?

It is worth noting that none of what DELWP produces to regulate wildlife is policy or legislation, they are all protocols, suggestions or guidelines. None the less, they enact them as if they were law.

Vague phrases like ‘not supported’ can be interpreted in many ways, by wildlife rescuers and DELWP staff alike. However, I find the bit after more concerning, ‘as these animals require significant long term care and cannot be successfully returned to the wild.’ This statement is untrue and not backed by good scientific research. If DELWP produces these documents, we can’t blame people asking questions, especially in such an ethically important area as wildlife rescue and rehab.

We need clear, regulatory documents that don’t contradict themselves from one paragraph to the next and from document to document—like the WSFCA and Response Plans do—our wildlife is too important!

Let’s hope they change this info, after this public review. DELWP should remove this information from all documentation immediately and confirm with the public.

**The below story was originally posted on our website in 2018. Please scroll down for the sample letter to send to the Premier.

‘God help any Victorian native animals injured rescued from bushfire areas. It is the policy of the Daniel Andrews Govt that all viable milk dependent joeys of kangaroos, wombats and koalas be automatically killed.’ Says a concerned wildlife shelter operator

DELWP’s fire ground regulations read ‘Rehabilitation of orphaned milk-dependant pouch young of common species such as macropods and koalas is not supported as these animals require significant long term care and cannot be successfully returned to the wild’

See the document from DELWP here:p 26. Victorian-Response-Plan-for-Wildlife-Impacted-by-Fire

http://awpc.org.au/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Cull-Numbers-and-Species-Approved-by-DELWP-20171-1.pd

Last year DELWP released the below suggestion on their Authority to Control Wildlife (ATCW) permit system review. They should remember that all extinct, endangered and threatened species were all once ‘common’.

‘Not allowing the rehabilitation of Eastern Grey Kangaroos or other overabundant species

Wildlife shelters and foster carers invest significant time and resources rehabilitating sick, injured and orphaned Eastern Grey Kangaroos. Given that the species is overabundant in many areas and is the species that the majority of ATCWs are issued for, some members of the community have suggested that the species should not be able to be rehabilitated under the wildlife shelter system.

A restriction on rehabilitating Eastern Grey Kangaroos has been in place in the ACT for many years, as the species is overabundant in the territory and is subject to significant control activities to protect property and biodiversity values.

While this is outside the scope of the ATCW review, it may be considered in future reviews of the wildlife shelter system, as it may save significant shelter resources and reduce the impact of the species on landholders. In this context, it may also be appropriate to consider whether the rehabilitation of unprotected wildlife, such as wombats, cockatoos or possums, should be disallowed or restricted to areas where such wildlife is not over-abundant (e.g. wombats found outside the parishes where the unprotection order applies).’

This idea was ‘floated by the community’ according to DELWP. The since have backdown due to pressure from the public and wildlife activists. See the full doc here, the above information appeared on page 31. How do they know what is ‘overabundant’ when we know they don’t do proper counts?

http://awpc.org.au/wp/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ATCW_Review_Discussion_Paper-FINAL.docx

Daniel Andrews is set to kill baby koalas!

Please write/email the Victorian government and express your concern about the unethical treatment orphaned native wildlife on the fire ground and elsewhere. Feel free to use/cut and paste the draft letter (complied by VOWS members) below.

Please write to:

Minister Lily D’Ambrosio

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change

Ground Office 2
30 Oleander Drive, Mill Park

lily.dambrosio@parliament.vic.gov.au

AND

Premier Daniel Andrews

Office of the Premier
1 Treasury Place
Melbourne, Victoria
Australia, 3002

daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.au

AND your local members

—————————————————————————————————–

Insert date

Insert name of Minister here

Insert position

Insert address

Insert email address

Insert your full name

Insert your postal address

Insert your email address

Insert your phone number

Dear insert title and name,

My name is ………… and I live at …………… I wish to express my outrage and concern that in an irresponsible and callous move the Daniel Andrews’ Government has installed regulations to euthanase any surviving joeys of ‘common species’, including koalas, that are found on the fire ground. Viable, healthy joeys are now to be killed if they survive bush fires, this is unacceptable.

This year his government signaled that it is interested in adopting a short-sighted catastrophic policy that will see ALL sick, injured and orphaned kangaroos, wombats, possums, cockatoos and any species they deem to be ‘overabundant’ KILLED instead of rescued and rehabilitated. This unjustified policy may act to drive wildlife carers underground and will see members of the public refusing to hand over animals to vets and shelters in the fear that they will be automatically killed. This will ultimately result in horrendous and widespread animal suffering.

Trained and experienced wildlife carers and rescuers, provide a service to the community that the pubic expects and the government fails to and cannot provide.

Volunteers fund all wildlife rescue and rehabilitation from their own pockets with no funding from the state government except for a tokenistic and inadequate annual wildlife shelter grant. They make themselves available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Yet the Andrews’ Government is planning to strip the community of this invaluable service, declaring that it is too costly to raise these animals and that they want to free up shelter resources. This cynical and disingenuous ploy is an insulting falsehood considering the lack of government funding and it’s own policies and procedures that put the welfare of wildlife at risk on a daily basis across all sectors.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of trained and experienced rescuers across Victoria rescue and rehabilitate injured and orphaned wildlife. No one else can give the same level of service with the commitment, dedication and efficiency that we provide. No Government budget would be big enough and no department would be competent enough to achieve the same outcomes.

Carers and rescuers, are committed to rescuing injured animals and they will continue to euthanase when necessary. But, I don’t agree they should become Andrew’s ‘killing machines’ to slaughter viable and healthy animals to facilitate a policy that is morally corrupt with no scientific merit. It is incomprehensible that the bureaucrats have not considered the psychological impacts these cruel policies will have on wildlife rescuers, carers and the veterinarians, who will be expected to undertake the killing, let alone the impact on members of the community who also encounter wildlife in need.

This is an urgent wake up call to the predicament of Victoria’s native wildlife that are in the incapable hands of a mega-department that is actively working to harm and exploit them for political and economic gain. We ask everyone to contact Victorian parliamentarians and tell them that wildlife and wildlife volunteers are valued. They must remember that Australia has the highest rate of mammalian extinction on the planet and that all ‘threatened’ and ‘extinct species’ were once considered ‘common and secure’.

Regards,

Your Name

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Australian Story- Our wildlife needs more funding!

Australia is a very prosperous country. Many Australians are making vast amounts of money from the mining industry, forestry, housing and investments. Money should be put towards our iconic wildlife, the same wildlife that brings in billions of tourist dollars every year. They are also integral to our biodiversity and the health of the land and our people.

 

They are being betrayed, not funded, burnt alive, have their habitat and homes cleared, they are culled and killed on the roads and gobbled up by feral and domestic non-native animals.

 

They deserve better, they don’t need a lot of money, but the impacts that they endure because of us humans should be compensated in some way to mitigate their suffering.

 

This wonderful Australian Story illustrates the need for all Australians to step up and make change.

 

http://www.abc.net.au/austory/call-of-the-wild/9008974

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AWPC AGM Sept 30th 2018

Dear Member/Supporter,

We have changed the venue of our AGM to be at The Briars Information Center (450 Nepean Hwy, Mount Martha), still to be held on the 30th September 2018 from 11am – 1pm.

Our agenda is:

Welcome and apologies
Memberships
President’s report
Secretary’s report
Treasurer’s report
Committee of Management elections
Discussion- fundraising, AWPC moving forward

The Nature Nook visit (a short stroll into the nature reserve to look at the AWPC’s current grant project)

If you would like to nominate for the committee please let me know, we would love to have more volunteers on board. We welcome ‘ordinary’ committee members too! Currently we have just one nominee each for the roles of President, Secretary and Treasurer, therefore we won’t need to vote at this stage.

There will be tea, coffee and biscuits but please bring some lunch if you wish.

Please RSVP your attendance, if you haven’t already, and we look forward to seeing you there.

Kind regards,

Eve Kelly
Secretary, AWPC
eve.awpc@gmail.com
0425 842 618

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AWPC Call for Better Seal Protection on Busy Beaches

The Australian Wildlife Protection Council has serious concerns about the protection of seals on Mornington Peninsula beaches.

http://mpnews.com.au/2018/04/09/call-for-seal-safety-on-the-beach/

Seals are a fascinating visitor to our beaches all year round, whether a regular inhabitant or the occasional day-tripper, they come to rest during the day after a night of feeding in the bay.

But they are increasingly at threat of human interference when they rest on our busy beaches during the holiday season. Our pleas for help have fallen on deaf ears and our state government department the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), authorised to protect wildlife, is failing miserably when it comes to wildlife welfare and seal protection. They refuse to meet with ALL relevant stakeholders and fail to support wildlife volunteers to establish any kind of system to actively manage the situation.

Threats to Seals

Over the past 2 years seals resting on Mornington Peninsula beaches have endured crowds of thousands of onlookers, dog attacks, jet ski harassment, drunken people riding on them, objects thrown at them, kicked, yelled at, poked and chased back into the water. The Mornington Peninsula community and local wildlife groups are very concerned that if the seals are not protected and a seal acts to protect itself it may be seen as a risk to ‘public safety’ and DELWP may see fit to destroy the animal.

 

What the Seals Need

In order to ensure seals are protected into the future we need an urgent response from the authorities. We envisage an improvement to the current situation in a short space of time if several easy measures are undertaken:

 

  1. We need an urgent meeting with ALL stakeholders, including volunteers, to establish a consensus as to who manages seals on particular stretches of beach.
  2. Standard protocols for an action plan to be initiated when a seal arrives.
  3. Communication systems, contact numbers of foreshore rangers (from foreshore Committees of Management (COMs), shire rangers and volunteers to be accessed when a seal arrives.
  4. Several seal ‘kits’ to be stored along the coast for easy access when a seal needs protection. These kits should include, signage, tape barriers, stakes or bollards, brochures and a volunteer sign in sheet for insurance coverage etc. These ‘kits’ should be regularly replenished and kept in good order.
  5. Permanent signage to educate the public seals and the regulations.

 

The AWPC is urging immediate action from the government on this matter.

 

Some Background

Who Manages the Protection of Seals?

DELWP do not attend to supervise resting seals, nor do shire council rangers or Parks Victoria rangers. Whilst the AGL Marine Response Unit (MRU) work to assess injured and entangled seals and travel far and wide to do this important work, they ordinarily do not attend to supervise uninjured, resting seals on public beaches. There are no current protocols, systems, reliable equipment or appropriate storage for equipment currently in place on the Mornington Peninsula.

For many years wildlife volunteers have been tirelessly responding to calls from the public when a seal arrives on a beach, they erect signage (to keep dogs away, listing the regulations and information about seals) and tape barriers around the seal to alert people of it’s presence and to make sure it is not approached or harassed. Volunteers also provide useful information about seals and act as the eyes and ears supervising the safety of the seal and the public.

At the moment, apart from a few signs (without stakes) provided by DELWP and brochures, volunteers are purchasing equipment, stakes, tape etc. themselves and supervising seals on an ad hoc basis without any support from authorities.

 

Current Situation

DELWP and Foreshore Committee of Management Managed Beaches

When a seal rests on a beach on the Mornington Peninsula managed by a Committee of Management (under DELWP) rangers usually don’t have equipment or manpower to supervise the seal. Rather than be supported, volunteers have been actively discouraged by DELWP from helping to supervise seals. DELWP have expressed concerns about e.g. lack of insurance coverage (a problem the AWPC found a solution for), lack of volunteer knowledge and ‘non-regulation’ stakes for signage.

According to Wildlife Victoria data there have been 171 volunteer call outs for seals from Edithvale to Portsea from December 2016- March 2018. With Wildlife Victoria being just one of the rescue services and receiving this many calls for seal help, it is very apparent that the need for seal protection is a regular occurrence.

So, whilst DELWP is very clearly the authority overseeing seals, they refuse to put systems in place, contract wildlife officers on the scene to ensure regulations are being adhered to and at the same time don’t want volunteers to help either. If they won’t or can’t do their job, why are they not supporting volunteers to do this important work?

 

Mornington Peninsula Shire Council Managed Beaches

Similarly, if a seal is resting on a beach managed by the Shire, shire rangers have no equipment or signage nor any current protocols as to who manages the protection of the seal.

The shire’s phone system currently redirects calls about resting seals onto local volunteers, who then have no equipment or support. Volunteers have no authority to enforce breaches of seal exclusion zones or uncontrolled dogs harassing seals, unlike DELWP or shire rangers.

 

Recent Cases

Wildlife groups are regularly called out to assess and supervise seals; here are accounts of just two recent cases to help illustrate the current issues we are faced with.

On Sunday the 11th of March 2018, a seal came to rest within a dog off-leash area of a Rosebud beach, a beach managed by the Mornington Shire Council. On the day there was a Kite Festival so there were hundreds of people on the beach. A member of the public who was worried about the number of dogs and people approaching the seal had called around some wildlife groups for help.

The AWPC had a volunteer attend the seal and we then immediately contacted the shire for assistance to erect signage and to help to keep dogs and people away.

Seal on Rosebud Beach with barriers erected by volunteers, Pic by Craig Thomson

Being a Sunday, we called the shire‘s after hours emergency phone line. The operator told us to contact volunteers (who we are); we had also reached out to other volunteer wildlife groups but no one else could attend. When we finally spoke to a shire ranger on duty we were told that rangers weren’t authorised to help with seals and that it was in fact Parks Victoria that managed the beach up to the ‘high tide mark’ (where the seal was resting).

So we contacted Parks Victoria, who told us that they didn’t deal with seals either and that seals were managed by DELWP, and so we went around in circles, as is the usual case. In the end we managed to rustle up some tape barriers and stakes and had volunteers supervise the seal until 10pm that night, the beach was still packed with tourists and dogs throughout the evening. The Shire failed to act and did not offer supervision for the seal, nor did they attempt to close off the beach to off-leash dogs or fine dog owners approaching the seal etc.

We sent a detailed account of this case to DELWP and the Shire but have had no response from either department about this particular case.

 

The next weekend, Saturday 17th of March, the AWPC had another call for a seal that was being harassed by a member of the public in Seaford. A man, known to police, was photographed trying to place money on the seal’s nose. Frankston Police eventually arrested the man. Again, we reported this matter to DELWP and asked them to follow up with the police and have this man charged with breaching the wildlife regulations, but again we have had no reply from DELWP about this particular case.

 

Volunteers

Seal protection has been put into the ‘too hard basket’ by the government for far too long, without volunteers seals are not currently sufficiently protected.

It appears DELWP are very vocal about being the ‘authority over seals’ but they are not interested in providing equipment or support to help protect seals and have actively discouraged local volunteers in attending seals, told us to stop advertising for new volunteers and are far too slow to organise a meeting to address the situation.

 

Over the past year the AWPC has communicated with DELWP many times to try and organise a meeting with ALL relevant stakeholders, including the volunteers who attend and supervise seals, so we can establish some consensus as to who manages seal protection on any given beach. We also need to meet to establish who will fund and store the equipment and write up some basic protocols and a list of contacts including shire rangers, COMs rangers and volunteers, to access when needed.

DELWP is not listening and is far too slow to act. There are clear regulations that they are failing to enforce and they are failing to do their job in protecting wildlife.

 

What is the Law?

https://www.wildlife.vic.gov.au/our-wildlife/whales,-dolphins-and-seals/encountering-seals

 

Seals are protected by law

People who harm seals can be fined up to approximately $6,000 or face up to 6 months imprisonment under the Wildlife Act 1975. Call DSE on 136 186 if you see anyone harassing or harming a seal.

 

The rules at a glance

  • Do not approach within 30 metres of a seal on land, whether you are also on land or in the water.
  • Dogs are not permitted within 50 metres of a seal on land.
  • Do not approach within 5 metres of a seal on a boat ramp, pier or other man-made structure.
  • Dogs must not enter the water within 150 metres of a dolphin, 300 metres of a whale or 50 metres of a seal.
  • It is illegal to touch or feed a seal.

 

 

 

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AWPC Call for Protection of Common Wombats in ALL Parishes in Victoria

The news that wombats are in the firing line for recreational hunters comes as no surprise to the Australian Wildlife Protection Council (AWPC). We place the blame for these cruel and irresponsible activities squarely on the Victorian State Government.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) are responsible for the enforcement of the Wildlife Act 1975, including breaches to the disturbance, trapping or killing of ‘protected’ native fauna. However, DELWP Wildlife Officers, some of whom hail from the Game Management Authority have stated that their job isn’t to ‘protect’ native wildlife but to instead ‘regulate’ them. The state government describes native wildlife as ‘assets’ that they need to protect from other economic interests. They assist a $174 million per year (2014) industry of kangaroo meat and leather (see link). It is in the state government’s best interests, economically and politically, to keep kangaroos maligned as ‘pests’. Voting farmers also have political sway and keeping wombats in ‘pest’ status buys the government votes. Similarly, the Game Management Authority (GMA) pressure the government to provide ‘assets’ to hunt e.g. ducks.


How YOU can Help Wombats in Victoria

The AWPC spoke to The New Daily and Border Mail about this dreadful situation and you can have a voice too.

1. Join or donate to the AWPC so we can continue to be a voice for wildlife. https://awpc.org.au/join/
2. Write a letter or email to the editor of your local newspaper or The Age or Herald Sun.
3.  Contact your local MPs and tell them you want more protection for wombats and all native Australian Wildlife.
4.  Email Premier Daniel Andrews (daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.au) and the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio (lily.d’ambrosio@parliament.vic.gov.au) to call for the protection of wombats in ALL Victorian parishes. Now is the time to have your individual voice heard!
5.  Sign and share these petitions far and wide:

https://www.change.org/p/daniel-andrews-stop-the-slaughter-of-wombats-in-victoria

https://action.hsi.org.au/page/46573/action/

Pic D. Brealey

DELWP regulate the permit system for the killing of native animals, and do so for hundreds of thousands every year (see attached). The Authority to Control Native Wildlife permits (ATCWs) are given to applicant landholders to scare or kill wildlife on their land that damage fences, eat crops, or scare horses. In the case of wombats, some farmers want them eradicated because their burrow systems can be dangerous for cattle and sheep.

However for 193 parishes in Victoria, wombats are not considered worthy of protection and landowners can kill as many as they like without an ATCW. This means there is absolutely no monitoring of welfare outcomes for wombats in some areas. If landowners can legally kill wombats on private land, what is stopping overseas tourists hunting them for recreational purposes? Wombats are native to this land but are put into the same basket as introduced species like foxes, rabbits and deer (see GMA link that mentions wombats as being classed the same as deer). They are considered ‘pests’ in the same way kangaroos are in some areas because they are deemed to have negative impacts on human’s land and/or food. The state government is responsible for these determinations and promotes this ideology. When our state leaders malign a native animal as a ‘pest’ in it’s own country it gives rise to others, including the public and overseas tourists, to also consider the killing of these animals as a ‘good thing’ for humans in Australia. Animal welfare concerns are not considered. Ask DELWP how they go about investigating breaches of animal welfare outcomes on native species. They will tell you that 99% of the time they respond by calling the member of the public on the phone to educate them rather than enforce the law (Wildlife Act 1975 and Prevention to Cruelty to Animals Acts).

Orphaned wombats in care pic. E. Kelly

Breaches of the Wildlife Act 1975 and ATCW permits are not properly investigated, and sometimes not investigated at all. Breaches for the disturbance or killing of ‘protected’ wildlife are rarely enforced especially for animals DELWP considers ‘overabundant’ e.g. wombat, kangaroo, koala, cockatoos, possums etc. It states on regulatory material and ATCW conditions that breaches to the welfare conditions (e.g. non-head shots or in pouch joeys not ‘dispatched’ on site) on permits are illegal, and non-compliance may result in a fine or legal action. The AWPC know this to be untrue. Breaches are rarely investigated and even more rarely enforced. Landowners with ATCW permits (or no permit for wombats in some parishes) are not required to have any experience with shooting to kill ‘protected’ or unprotected wildlife. The state government is telling lies about the ‘strict’ conditions they are supposed to be regulating and enforcing.

Wombats in unprotected parishes have even less (if that’s possible) regulation, investigation and enforcement of animal cruelty cases. The AWPC has had reports of wombat carcasses thrown in dump-sites like rubbish. Wombats are run over deliberately and joeys at foot or in the pouch are left to die (see link below). Wombats are buried alive by forestry-workers and farmers (see links). They suffer terribly from mange, a disease spread by foxes; an animal not successfully managed by state government (see link). Wombats are poisoned and gassed by farmers (see link). Their habitat is lost through land clearing for development and farming, planned burns and bushfire. Native grasslands overrun with weeds (another area of failure by the state government) also have damaging impacts to their health (see link).

Wombats shot next to their burrows in Gippsland

So how many wombats are there? Who knows? The state government doesn’t know!

The state government was asked in 2016 questions about the number of wombats in and around ‘unprotected’ parishes including areas in the Murrindindi parish (extract from the Parliamentary debate Hansard report May 2016):

What agency or agencies record wombat population data in Victoria?’

(4) What are the current estimated wombat populations:
(a) in and around Yarra Glen, Dixons Creek and Steels Creek;
(b) in and around Kinglake;
(c) in and around Yea, including Glenburn

ANSWER:
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Wildlife Act 1975 (Wildlife Act), under which all native wildlife, including kangaroos and wombats, and wildlife further classified as game, including deer, are protected.

DELWP does not undertake landscape-scale population surveys for common species, such as kangaroos, wombats and deer.

Excerpts from the answer:


ATCWs are only issued when there is a demonstrated need and all ATCWs include strict conditions to ensure that animals are controlled humanely. Anyone acting on an ATCW must, by law, comply with the conditions. Non-compliance may result in fines or legal action.

Elsewhere in Victoria, the Common Wombat remains protected and a person wishing to take or destroy Common Wombats must apply to DELWP for an ATCW in order to do so. There are no large scale control programs for Common Wombats in Victoria.

The Common Wombat is protected in Victoria, except for in 193 parishes in eastern Victoria where they have been declared unprotected by a Governor in Council Order under section 7A of the Wildlife Act. In areas where they are unprotected, Common Wombats may be controlled without the requirement for an authorisation. In these parishes, wombats can only be controlled by a landholder or occupier engaged in rural production or by their permanent employees. In addition, wombats can only be controlled by the use of firearms conforming to strict specifications.

Statistics on the number of ATCWs that are issued each year, including for kangaroos, wombats and deer, are available on the DELWP website.

Wombat killed in it's natural habitat
Wombat killed in it’s natural habitat Gippsland 2018

In Summary

The state government has no idea how many wombats there are in Victoria and how many are impacted by disease, habitat loss, fire or hunting/killing. DELWP are failing to protect wildlife welfare even with legislation in place. We oppose recreational hunting of any native animal and believe that the state government has vested economic and political interests in maligning wombats and other native species as ‘pests’.

Wombats dumped like rubbish in Gippsland

Read more here:

https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2019/08/01/wombats-killing-crown-casino/

https://www.bordermail.com.au/story/6311207/rule-allowing-wombat-kills-may-end

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/welcome-to-victoria-the-most-wombat-unfriendly-state

https://www.vice.com/en_au/article/vb54ex/chinese-high-rollers-are-being-invited-to-shoot-wombats-on-this-australian-farm

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