AWPC’s Response to The Weekly Times Article ‘Victoria aids wildlife victoria while permitting pest culls’ by Eve Kelly
This article speaks volumes of how little some farmers consider animal welfare. Wildlife rescue is an ethical welfare issue. Leaving a kangaroo hanging on a fence to die and/or leaving her joey in her pouch to die from exposure in is inhumane. Wildlife Victoria volunteers work hard to lessen the cruel impact that humans have on Australian Wildlife. They experience this suffering everyday and realize our wildlife’s desperate need. They pay their own money, time and energy to help these vulnerable and voiceless animals. They should be commended and supported by the government and the public.
Why does it have to be funding one thing over another? The state government should fund pest management of foxes and rabbits on crown land separately. Landowners are responsible for the control of introduced pests on their own land as per state regulations. Some farmers need to understand that a hole in the ground from a wombat or a damaged fence from a kangaroo, does not justify maiming and killing indigenous species. These animals have kept the environment healthy for millions of years and without them the farmers wouldn’t have the land to work from.
The government shouldn’t be allowing the mass culling of native species. They bring in billions of tourist dollars nationally. With ecologists reporting a species extinction crisis worldwide it is an irresponsible way to mange our ecosystems. All extinct and threatened species were once ‘common’ species; they all need protection. Most native animals are not counted and if they are the numbers are far from accurate. Not ALL farmers treat native Australian wildlife in this way. If farmers, who make millions of dollars off the land, choose to farm in Australia they must adapt to work alongside wildlife.
It is worth noting that it’s in the government’s, some farmers’ and industry’s best interests to malign native animals as ‘over abundant’ ‘pests’. This government ‘asset’ makes them money and also gets in the way of development and logging. ‘The gross value of production for the kangaroo industry in 2014 was A$174 million’ according to www.kangarooindustry.com. Wildlife activist groups and Wildlife Victoria volunteers don’t have vested interests or big budgets to fund their agenda. The kangaroo industry funds the ‘native pest’ ideology in educational institutions and in the media because it is economical viable to do so.
For the record, to clarify what ‘rescue’ means. Wildlife Victoria volunteers would never re-release a fox. It is the case that foxes are caught in leg traps, poisoned or cubs orphaned. The suffering is immense. The reason Wildlife Victoria volunteers are called upon to assist introduced species is because the RSPCA Victoria and local councils don’t have trained and equipped rescuers to go out and help. Wildlife Victoria provide a service that the public expects but the government doesn’t provide. Wildlife Victoria will refuse these cases if resources are best used for native species. If they do assist a fox, or non-native rat, the animal is taken to the vet and left in the hands of the veterinarian to euthanase. Authorised wildlife shelters in Victoria are not permitted to rehabilitate introduced species.