Category Archives: Victoria

Three days at a border fireground (Vic, NSW)

corryong-fire-grounds

AWPC committee member and long-time wildlife rescuer Chris Lehmann spent three days on the post-fire ground between between Victoria and NSW around Albury and Corryong in early February.  Here is his first hand initial report and also a youtube clip from that journey.

The new AWPC committee supports all community efforts to help bring emergency assistance, including food and water drops, to fire survivors as well as to areas that are so dry that animals have lost their natural sustenance (and that might burn next!)

State governments in Victoria and NSW have yet to take leadership or action on helping the wildlife survivors bar a few well-publiced food drops to endangered wallabies.

Landholders and the wider community, including volunteers from overseas are leading the way with generosity and dedication.


My first expression of what I saw at Corryong:

Longing for life

We spent 3 days in the fire grounds of Corryong, some 30 days after Corryong was evacuated because of the fire storms that had destroyed Woormargama, Burrowa, Pine, and Mittamatite Forests plus much of the farmland and many homes around.

We were searching for life.

Mt Mittamatite is a local mountain forest covering about 100 square kms. There might have been 100,000+ furred and feathered animals living on just Mt Mittamatite. Now, 30 days later, as a result of daily searches (over the last few weeks) well into the early hours of the morning, a local wildlife carer estimates there is 50–100 animals surviving there.

He has identified the very few patches of forest that have enough cover and dregs of food for survival and has committed to providing water and food for those few survivors. Those 50–100 kangaroos, wallabies and wombats will be the genesis of the recovery of the mountain.

Life is there, we found it — but the lack of water and good food is too real.

We need to support these animals for a few months. On Tuesday we [sent] 30–40 bags of carrots up to Bellaboo Wildlife Shelter who will lead the water station and food drop effort.

 


A 2nd report from the Corryong Fire Grounds, February 2020.

(Click above text to link to the written post on the Kangaloola Wildlife Shelter Inc. Facebook page.)

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BREAKING NEWS: Vic Govt lifts moratorium

AS THE BUSHFIRES continue to kill kangaroos, The Victorian State Government has lifted their emergency moratorium of the commercial killing of kangaroos.

No wildlife assessment has been completed.
The number of surviving kangaroos is unknown.

Write directly to the Victorian Premier Daniel Andres today to voice your concerns
daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.au
Or phone directly (03) 9651 5000

#ShameAustralia
#KangaroosAlive
#AnimalWelfare

 

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Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary (NSW, Vic)

cobargo-wildlife-sanc-jan2020

We join Sara Tilling and Gary Henderson once more, this time Sara talks about grief and loss and rebuilding the future from the caravan that is to be their temporary home. There is an impassioned thank you for the many of you from around the world that have given the support and kindness that will make a new future possible.

“Like us, all living creatures don’t want to die and will fight to survive. Sometimes despite all odds we hang in there, not yet ready to leave for many reasons. Maybe just because you find someone that is prepared to sit with you, love you and give it their all to help you. To give you the strength to fight.”
— Sara Tilling

The money donated to the Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary will be spent on rebuilding the wildlife care and rehabilitation infrastructure and equipment, compounds, sheds and the like. Money will also be spent on revegetating the property with the native plant species that will help to give the animals who come to live at the sanctuary in the future, the very best chance of a happy and successful life. There is a vast amount of work to be done.

You can assist in this work by donating HERE.

NOTE: Why it is critically important to donate to people and organisations working on the front line of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation in Australia.

Sara mentions the attitudes of governments in Australia to wildlife and conservation. What has occurred over the last few days is telling. Some good, some very bad.

The Commonwealth Government of Australia (Canberra) has pledged $50 million to assist wildlife in the firegrounds across this vast continent. The states most impacted at this time are New South Wales (Cobargo), Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland. The $50 million in funding will be split between an expert advisory panel and community groups and Koalas will be a focus for restoration efforts, with as much as 30 per cent of Koala habitat destroyed. We shall see what happens.

In New South Wales, where some 8.5 million hectares have been destroyed and whose current government’s attitudes to wildlife conservation are nothing less than egregious appear to be planning on businesses as usual with no changes to lax wildlife laws or the level of commercial or other permits being issued. “DPIE will be monitoring fire and harvesting activity within the commercial management zones and will be engaging with commercial harvesters and animal dealers that may operate within the affected zones,” the spokesperson said. “Our goal is to ensure that Kangaroo populations remain ecologically sustainable.”

In Victoria, the Victorian Government, although details and how these are to be enforced are vague, has suspended its relatively new and doomed Kangaroo Pet Food Industry. The commercial wildlife industry in Victoria is doomed because much of the populations of species being exploited are now gone because of the large numbers of animals killed in the last few years. As far as I can tell the Victorian Government has no plans to put a stop to the vast scale culling of wildlife it claims to be a nuisance or overabundant. In Victoria in the ten-year period 2009-2018 inclusive a total of 32,147 of these ATCW permits (not commercial) were issued for Australian species covering 1,513,605 animals across 82 native species including for 26,507 Wombats, in addition Wombats are unprotected in much of the state and killing them does not require a permit. This Government describes Koalas as overabundant (nonsense).

While not formally announced, the Victorian Government (its Ministers) have also flagged their intention to proceed with this year’s Duck shooting season despite the devastating impact on waterbird populations in Australia from heat events, long term and severe drought and now the horrific fires. South Australia has already announced that despite the devastating fires it will proceed with its Duck shooting season.

Too little too late

An area not that much smaller than Greece, has been destroyed in Australia over the last few weeks and because the firegrounds are so vast, the wildlife that does survive is in immediate danger of starvation and dehydration, all food has gone, and water sources, if they remain, are contaminated. The Australian Veterinary Association is desperately calling on the Victorian Government to airdrop food into inaccessible, bushfire-affected land in Victoria to save starving wildlife.

“Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the Government was taking expert advice to get the best outcome for native wildlife and biodiversity. “We’re considering supplementary feeding for threatened species in targeted areas if and when it’s appropriate and safe to do so,” she said.

As President of the Australian Wildlife Protection Council I have called on the government to stop all wildlife killing activities and to begin food drops with immediate effect. Towards the end of 2019 it looked to me, with all the disasters and potential disasters that we describe here, that the Victorian Government were ‘culling’ wildlife in state and national parks in Victoria. The response I received beyond the usual spin was as follows:

“If you require any more detailed information at this stage, we encourage you to submit your query through our Freedom of Information Process”.

Something to hide perhaps?

Australia’s ABC report that “Animals Australia director Lyn White said some species in fire-affected areas were critically endangered such as the mountain pygmy-possum and brush-tailed rock-wallaby found in Gippsland. The charity offered $100,000 to the Victorian Government last week to help purchase food, but said they have not received a response to the offer”.

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Urban sprawl threatens Southern Brown Bandicoots — Western Port Bay, Vic

SouthernBrownBandicoot_creditReinerRICHTER

Ecologist Hans Brunner:

Bandicoots, the problems and the answer.

MY CONCERN IS the survival of Southern Brown Bandicoots (SBB) east of Melbourne and especially within the biosphere region around Western Port Bay. This is the site where during the last twenty odd years 95% of them were lost. The reason for the loss of the SBBs was the combination of incompetent and unwillingness by the then governments of Department of Environment and Sustainability, and Parks Victoria, failure to properly protect them there.

(So the very government agencies we expect to uphold the protection of wildlife and habitats are actually failing!  Promoting urban sprawl now is endemic to our culture, our economy?  Editor)

And now, the new Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP) plans to create a large new urban estate adjacent to the Royal Botanical Gardens Cranbourne (RBGC) called the Botanic Ridge & Devon Meadows. This area was previously covered with prime bandicoot habitat land — and now have to be somehow compensated for.

bandicoot_cranbourne8184660

IMAGES: Used with permission from Reiner Richter.

(Strange how the names of some streets and housing estates take on names that represent exactly some of the natural features lost under concrete — “botanic” and “meadows”, editor.)

Since then. I have attended four workshops with DELWP, SBB experts, public servants and environment consultants, about 25 people per session.

I was extremely disappointed that DELWP still insists in the continued use of only narrow corridors as a compensation for the loss of all the SBB habitat. I have earlier explained to them in great detail why these narrow corridors will definitely not be suitable for SBBs. Unfortunately, there seems to be absolutely nothing that I could do to change their mind. They were also not prepared to apply an actual Population Viability Assessment (PVA) to the area. All they did was talk about the use of it, but did not apply it, in order to prove that SBBs could safely survive in these conditions for at least the next hundred years! To me, this looked like 90% of political overbearing and only 10% of environmental input. No way could a PVA pass a test here and neither can artificial and narrow corridors be used for SBBs.

I have therefore consistently insisted that SBBs can now only be properly secured within large reserves surrounded by a predator proof fence. There are several such reserves suitable for this purpose such as the Pines, the Langwarrin Reserve and the Briars. SBBs can then be safely protected from dogs, foxes, feral cats and from competition from rabbits. Why has so much gone wrong with DELWP? Is there not one person among them who understands and loves SBBs enough to give them the deservedly highest protection available?

I now urge DELWP to urgently carry out their obligation and to put those SBBs safely into some large reserves the same way they are protected in the RBGC. I will be extremely frustrated if this is not done. Only the highest possible protection for them can now do.

— Hans Brunner

hansbrunner_1

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Victoria is definitely NOT the place to be if you are a bird or a kangaroo!

In Australia’s State of Victoria, ATCWs are authorities to control wildlife, for the majority of permits issued and for the majority of animals, control means kill.

“In a place where nature does not count, counting nature can be a grim business. The reality is that the Victorian Government knows very little about the outcomes for the animals they issue these permits for. Most of course will be killed, just how many (more or less) is a matter for speculation. What has occurred regarding Macropod species for example is a complete disgrace”

CLIMATE CHANGE

What is also particularly disgraceful, the usual head in the sand stuff we get from Australia, is that no account at all is taken of the impacts of climate change, which are severe. So instead of taking the plight of numerous species into account, the numbers of ATCWs granted and the numbers of animals involved have increased at scale.

The most basic applied logic would give you an understanding that increasing the numbers of animals subject to so called control will only result in one outcome – that is putting more species at risk. We are also disrupting the web of life.

“The reality is that most people do not have a clue about what is going on in relation to these matters – the spin from all Australian governments makes it look as if all Australian wildlife is protected and so that is what they believe. And what I find another big problem is that this story is believed around the world. We have done something to dispel this myth in Australia, but not nearly enough”. Peter Hylands

There are gross acts of cruelty involved here too.

Duck shooting has continued despite the most dire climate conditions including the condition of wetlands and associated breeding sites.

In Victoria, tens of thousands of waterbirds are shot on internationally significant wetlands, Ramsar sites, each year.

NUMBER CRUNCH – COMPARISONS

  • In  Victoria in the ten-year period 2009-2018 inclusive a total of 32,147 ATCWs were issued for Australian species covering 1,513,605 animals.
  • In Victoria, the total number of animals subject to ATCWs in the period 2016-2018 was 2.3 times higher than the number of animals subject to ATCWs 2009-2011.
  • The number of ATCWs (permits) issued in 2016-2018 was 1.66 times higher than the number of ATCWs issued in the period 2009-2011.
  • Victoria is also not the place to be if you happen to be a bird, 73 per cent of species subject to control in Victoria were bird species with a total of 397,549 birds, of which 182,721 or 45 per cent were from a range of parrot species. We also need to remember that ATCWs are not the only way animals in Victoria die, so we can add another 4 million dead water birds (I am being modest in my calculations) in the last ten years to the tally in Victoria because of duck shooting in the state. So all up, that is around 4.5 million birds in the state in the last ten years.
  • Politics and nature: The Victorian Labor Government was elected in November 2014 and has increased the number of animals killed across a range of mechanisms. The Labor tally in relation to ATCWs in the years 2015 – 2018 totals 16,010 ATCW permits covering 844,625 animals. In the previous four-year period the Liberal- National Coalition Government in Victoria (a government described to me by friend Dr Hugh Wirth, President of the RSPCA and WSPA (the world body) as extremely cruel) issued 11,146 ATCW permits covering 461,593 animals, 54 per cent of the Labor total.

IMPACT OF KANGAROO PET FOOD TRIAL AND SUBSEQUENT TRADE IN WILDLIFE

In Victoria, 750,000 Kangaroos were authorised to be killed by ATCW / KPFT permits in the years 2014 – 2018. The number of Kangaroos authorised roughly doubled once the pet food trial really got underway despite government statements that there would be no increase in killing rates once the trial commenced. 390,886 of these animals were authorised under KPFT of which around 212,000 were actually processed.

There was a marked step change in the killing rates of all species in 2013, the number again increased significantly after the year the Victorian Labor Party won government in the state. What was going to happen was always very obvious, and when it did occur, little was done to moderate the situation. The numbers tell us that story.

ATCWS FOR AUSTRALIAN WILDLIFE IN VICTORIA

The first number in bold is the number of ATCWs issued, the second number is the number of individuals of the species subject to control. The period covered is for ten years, from 2009 – 2018 inclusive. For a number of species on the list the number subject to control has increased rapidly in the last few years.

  1. Australian King-parrot Alisterus scapularis –2/10
  2. Australian Fur Seal Pusillus doriferus – 8 / 258
  3. Australian Magpie Cracticus tibicen – 195 / 3,565
  4. Australian Magpie Lark Grallina cyanoleuca – 52 / 460
  5. Australian Raven Corvus coronoides – 862 / 25,163
  6. Australian Shelduck Tadorna tadornoides – 120 / 4,978
  7. Australian White Ibis Threskiornis moluccus – 41 / 2,411
  8. Bell Miner Manorina melanophrys – 7 / 570
  9. Black Kite Milvus migrans – 9 / 185
  10. Black Swan Cygnus atratus – 17 / 530
  11. Black Wallaby Wallabia bicolor – 1,337 / 17,682
  12. Black-tailed Native-hen Tribonyx ventralis – 10 / 240
  13. Broad-shelled River Turtle Chelodina expansa –1 / 100
  14. Brolga Grus rubicunda – 2 / 51
  15. Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike Coracina novaehollandiae  15 / 155
  16. Cape Barren Goose Cereopsis novaehollandiae – 31 / 1,890
  17. Chestnut Teal Anas castanea – 7 / 90
  18. Common Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecular – 56 / 1,850
  19. Common Long-necked Tortoise Chelodina longicollis – 4 / 10,119*
  20. Common Ringtail Possum Pseudocheirus peregrinus –19 / 324
  21. Common Wombat Vombatus ursinus – 2,044 / 26,507
  22. Crimson Rosella Platycercus elegans – 180 / 4,702
  23. Dingo Canis lupus dingo  – 14 / 134
  24. Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa – 4 / 270
  25. Eastern Banjo Frog Limnodynastes dumerilii – 1 / 10
  26. Eastern Brown Snake Pseudonaja textilis – 29 / 387
  27. Eastern Grey Kangaroo Macropus giganteus – 18,715 / 889,488
  28. Eastern Rosella Platycercus eximius – 74 / 1,535
  29. Emu Dromaius novaehollandiae – 756 / 9,961 Landing image
  30. Eurasian Coot Fulica atra – 30 / 1,271
  31. Fairy Martin Petrochelidon ariel – 3 / 320
  32. Rose-breasted Cockatoo (Galah) Eolophus roseicapilla – 422 / 32,082
  33. Gang-gang Cockatoo Callocephalon fimbriatum – 1 / 30
  34. Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo – 32 / 719
  35. Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus – 22 / 243
  36. Grey Teal Anas gracilis – 39 / 4,492
  37. Grey-headed Flying-Fox Pteropus poliocephalus – 38 / 52,160
  38. Hardhead Aythya Australis – 1 / 15
  39. Highland Copperhead Austrelaps ramsayi – 8 / 65
  40. Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae – 25 / 187
  41. Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea – 390 / 31,930
  42. Little Crow Corvus bennetti– 1 / 15
  43. Little Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris – 41 / 632
  44. Little Pied Cormorant Microcarbo melanoleucos – 37 / 452
  45. Little Raven Corvus mellori – 77 / 1,974
  46. Long-billed Corella Cacatua tenuirostris – 433 / 53,238
  47. Lowland Copperhead Austrelaps superbus – 13 / 246
  48. Mallee Ringneck Barnardius zonarius – 10 / 50
  49. Magpie Goose Anseranas semipalmata – 2 / 1,510
  50. Maned (Wood) Duck Chenonetta jubata – 1,098 / 36,206
  51. Murray Turtle Emydura macquarii – 1 /100
  52. Masked Lapwing (Plover) Vanellus miles – 130 / 1,607
  53. Musk Lorikeet Glossopsitta concinna – 291 / 17,015
  54. Noisy Friarbird Philemon corniculatus – 90 /2,110
  55. Noisy Minor Manorina melanocephala – 78 / 2,526
  56. Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa – 105 / 2,480
  57. Pacific Heron (White-necked) Ardea pacifica – 1 / 2
  58. Pied Currawong Strepera graculina – 238 / 5,956
  59. Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyria – 23 / 370
  60. Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus moluccanus – 186 / 9,855 Image just above
  61. Red Kangaroo Macropus rufus – 70 / 49,141
  62. Red-bellied Black Snake Pseudechis porphyriacus – 20 / 226
  63. Red Wattlebird Anthochaera carunculata – 123 / 3,747
  64. Red-necked (Bennett’s) Wallaby Macropus rufogriseus – 184 / 7,863
  65. Richard’s Pipit Anthus richardi – 1 / 10
  66. Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron Nycticorax caledonicus – 8 / 70
  67. Satin Bowerbird Ptilonorhynchus violaceus – 45 / 840
  68. Silver Gull Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae – 160 / 88,702
  69. Silvereye Zosterops lateralis – 142 / 3,860
  70. Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis – 16 / 495
  71. Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita – 565 / 31,675
  72. Tammar Wallaby Macropus eugenii 3/30
  73. Tiger Snake Notechis scutatus – 28 / 407
  74. Wedged-tailed Eagle Aquila audax – 3 / 7
  75. Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena – 46 / 3,271
  76. Western Brown Snake Pseudonaja nuchalis – 1 / 1
  77. Western Grey Kangaroo Macropus fuliginosus – 708 / 55,700
  78. White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae – 7 / 70
  79. White-winged Chough Corcorax melanorhamphos – 5 / 50
  80. Yellow Rosella Platycercus flaveolus – 1 / 10
  81. Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo Calyptorhynchus funereus – 9 / 599
  82. Yellow-throated Miner Manorina flavigula – 3 / 90

VICTORIA: COMMENTS ON SPECIES

MACROPODS

Remember that in Victoria, out of 16 species of Macropod that existed in the state in the 19th century, 7 are now extinct, three more species, if you include the Red Kangaroo, look as if they are in deep trouble, and I am starting to think about the Western Grey Kangaroo in similar terms, I will be correct if things do not change.

Macropods species have been a focus of the ATCW system and in the ten-year period from 2009 – 2018 ATCWs were issued covering 1,019,904 animals across 6 species. The numbers killed increasing rapidly in the last five years.

We also need to remember that the slaughter of Kangaroos and Wallabies also takes in the young, which are not counted by the ATCW system (these are joeys in-pouch and joeys at-foot, these animals are killed by blunt force and discarded unless they escape to die elsewhere). Roughly, because of mortality rates, 70 per cent of Kangaroo populations are female, any claims that males are the only animals targeted is untrue, females are also killed on mass. Because of size, it is also likely that the larger females, that is those of young bearing age, are the most likely to be shot. So let us say here that a modest 65 per cent of females who were killed had young (this is understated but a rough estimate), so that is, another 464,056 young animals at various stages of joeyhood.

RED KANGAROO

The number of Red Kangaroos subject to ATCWs 2016-2018 (at 33,118) in Victoria was 15.6 times the number of Red Kangaroos subject to ATCWs in 2009-2011 (at 2,120). I have expressed my concerns to Victoria’s environment minister regarding what is occurring to the magnificent Red Kangaroo in Victoria, that is, ATCWs are being issued to cover numbers of animals that exceed the species entire population in Victoria. They have taken absolutely no notice of my concerns and just kept going. In their 2017 aerial survey the Victorian Government managed to account for just 23 Red Kangaroos so they know there is a problem here.

EASTERN GREY KANGAROO

The number of Eastern Grey Kangaroos subject to ATCWs 2016-2018 (at 456,712) in Victoria was 3.5 times the number of Eastern Grey Kangaroos subject to ATCWs in 2009-2011 (at 129,195). These poor animals have taken the brunt of the expansion of the trade in wildlife in Victoria and killing rates will decimate population numbers.

WESTERN GREY KANGAROO

The number of Western Grey Kangaroos subject to ATCWs 2016-2018 (at 37,792) in Victoria was 5.3 times the number of Western Grey Kangaroos subject to ATCWs in 2009-2011 (at 7,117). I am now also becoming extremely concerned about the Western Grey Kangaroo, as it is being slaughtered in numbers that are clearly unsustainable.

WALLAROO

The story from the Victorian Government regarding the Wallaroo was as follows – “It is important to note that Victoria is the edge of the Wallaroo’s range and although it is listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act in Victoria, the species is found throughout other eastern Australian states”.

This is a classic case of redefining the distribution and range of species, that is, as the Wallaroo is almost now gone (it is listed as endangered in Victoria) from Victoria, it no longer matters as the species still exists in other states (where its populations are also being shot out). The geographic distribution of the Wallaroo in Victoria was far greater than the Victorian Government pretends. Early settlers in the Melbourne region describe Wallaroos occupying the gullies and steeper country in the vicinity of the early settlement. Museum records indicate the species persisted in the Yan Yean area until the 1960s, today Wallaroos persist only in the far north-eastern corner of Victoria and this represents a tiny fraction of their former distribution, occupying possibly as little as 2 per cent of their former range.

The sedentary habits of the Wallaroo and consequently its poor capacity for dispersal, mass shooting of animals and vast scale clearing of land in the east of the state has occurred in its habitats, further restricting the opportunities for remaining animals to disperse, populations were fargmented beyond repair, now leaving the Wallaroo clinging to its remaining and diminishing range in the east of the state.

Note: How the Tammar Wallaby got onto the list is a mystery, this might relate to captive populations.

FLYING FOXES

The Grey-headed Flying-Fox is listed as vulnerable in Victoria. 38 ATCWs covering 52,160 animals for this species were issued in the years 2009 – 2018. Flying Fox species in Australia are in trouble, particularly from mass die offs caused by heat events, sometimes involving tens of thousands of individuals, so numbers are declining fast. The use of ATCWs here is to scare off colonies, in the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne, the Victorian Government attempted to kill the Flying Foxes but because of the fuss this caused, these animals are now moved on but with fewer and fewer places to go.

In New South Wales and Queensland, where there has also been a dramatic decline in Flying Fox populations, these animals are still shot. The outcome of the killing and harassment of these animals can only end one way, and that is further extinctions, to add to Australia’s already long list of such things.

“Heat stress has killed almost a third of an eastern Victorian town’s native flying fox population (more than 2,000 animals), after extreme weather on Friday”. ABC 29 January 2019.

Colonies of Flying Foxes continue to be harassed, current examples are in Cairns, Queensland and in Colac Victoria. You can read more about Flying Foxes in Australia here.

PARROTS

Parrots are a long lived group of animals, their breeding habitat, through the continual clearing of old trees with nesting hollows, is under great threat and the birds also face the challenges of climate change, some birds dying on wing from severe heat events. The likelihood is therefore that we are going to see significant reductions in Parrot numbers as birds find it harder to raise young, and as the older birds die, they will not be replaced in similar numbers.

Parrots are the most wonderful of animals and the fact that a government can contemplate killing them is such vast numbers is disgraceful.

WOMBATS

The wonderful Coarse-haired Wombat is being killed on mass, unprotected in much of the State of Victoria, you will note from the ATCW list above that permits to kill 26,507 animals in the ten-year period. Wombat species are facing serious issues in relation to the parasitic infestation caused by mites, sarcoptic mange.

WHAT THE VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT SAYS TO THE PUBLIC

The number of ATCWs represents the total number of authorisations issued for both lethal and non-lethal methods (e.g. scare or trap).  Lethal control of wildlife is only considered when practical non-lethal methods were unsuccessful at resolving the program or are impractical to implement. ATCWs are sometimes issued for the non-lethal control of some threatened species as follows:

  • Brolga: issued to scare brolgas away from airports in order to protect the birds from aircrafts.
  • Grey-headed Flying Fox: issued to scare flying foxes from inappropriate areas where they can cause damage to the environment or property.
  • Magpie Goose: issued to scare magpie geese that are causing damage to crops.

WHAT THE VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT HAVE SAID TO ME IN VARIOUS CORRESPONDENCES

Last year I raised a series of questions with the Department of Environment in Victoria (DELWP). Here are those questions and the department’s answers to them.

1) In the listing of ATCWs 2009-2017 what is the split between lethal and non-lethal methods over this period – my research indicates that the department is against moving wildlife, preferring it to be destroyed. I do not understand entries such as the one for the Long-necked tortoise 9999 animals – is this a relocation relating to climate change for example?

DELWP is unable to provide the split between authorisations for lethal and non-lethal control as our current permit database does not have the function to be able to produce a report on this. A new database is being developed which will address this limitation.

The figure regarding Long-necked Tortoises was a data entry error at the time of the ATCW being issued. The ATCW was issued to trap and hold Common Long-necked Tortoise that may have been encountered during contraction works undertaken to an artificial water body.  No tortoises were actually encountered during construction so the ATCW was not acted on.

2) I note there are no Koalas on any of the listings – under what authority have these been culled? For example 686 Koala in 2013/4. Is the government providing other different types of permits, which allow landholders to destroy wildlife?

The euthanasia of Koalas in 2013/2014 was undertaken by veterinarians on welfare grounds, as the Koalas were suffering from starvation and disease. Veterinarians are exempt from the requirement to obtain an authorisation under the Wildlife Act if they are euthanising wildlife on welfare grounds.

3) How are the activities supervised and followed up? How many officers are involved in this process?

DELWP has 52 Forest and Wildlife Officers operating across the state. DELWP Forest and Wildlife Officers monitor compliance with the ATCW system and investigate reports of non-compliance made by the public.

DELWP applies a risk-based, intelligence-led compliance approach and uses a range of compliance activities to encourage compliance and deter non-compliance. The activities undertaken to achieve compliance are selected based on a risk assessment, with consideration being given to the risk posed by the non-compliance and the cost and benefit of different compliance activities. Examples of compliance activities that may be undertaken include:

  • Providing education and guidance on the compliance obligations, the negative impacts of non-compliance and the best practice ways of complying.
  • Requesting that voluntary corrective action is undertaken to address non-compliance, if request for corrective action is ignored then compliance action can be escalated
  • Imposing additional licence and authorisation conditions
  • Audits and inspections (random or targeted)
  • Official warnings or notices to comply
  • Suspension or cancellation of licence or authorisation
  • Formal prosecution

4) How many prosecutions have there been for non-compliance and acts of cruelty?

DELWP takes matters of non-compliance seriously and is often successful at prosecuting offenders for non-compliance with the Wildlife Act 1975 and regulations, and associated legislation such as the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.

For example, in 2016 there were 27 charges laid for offences under the Wildlife Act, with two of these being major prosecutions relating to animal cruelty (two accused in each case) that resulted in convictions.

For 2017, there were 11 charges laid for offences under the Wildlife Act, one of which is a major prosecution involving one individual with over 100 charges of alleged cruelty to animals. This matter resulted in a conviction.

5) How many ATCW applications have been rejected in the period 2009-2017?

Our current permit database does not have the function to able to produce a report on this. A new database is currently being developed which will address this limitation.

6) Why has the annual rate risen so sharply?

Wildlife population numbers fluctuate as availability of food and water changes in response to variations in temperature and rainfall. This means that the number of ATCWs sought by landholders also fluctuates year by year. For example, if there are dry conditions then landholders are more likely to seek an ATCW to reduce the competition between wildlife and their stock for feed.

7) What species are off the list in terms of not requiring an ATCW to destroy them?

Under section 7A of the Wildlife Act, the Minister can recommend to the Governor in Council to declare a species of wildlife unprotected in a specified area.

Whilst this means that the unprotected species of wildlife may be controlled without an ATCW, it does not mean that control is not regulated. The unprotection order will specify the period and area to which the Order applies, in what circumstances the species is unprotected, and the conditions that must be met, such as who may control the species and the methods they may use.

There are currently unprotection orders in place for the Common Wombat in certain parishes of Victoria, Brushtail Possums living in buildings and municipal parks, Dingos on or within a certain distance from private land for the protection of livestock, and Long-billed Corellas, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Galahs causing damage to property.

8) Are there any regional differences in Victoria relating to the control of wildlife?

The control of wildlife varies across the landscape. As stated earlier, wildlife population numbers fluctuate depending on availability of food and water changes in response to variations in temperature and rainfall. Similarly, the number of ATCWs issued for the control of wildlife varies.

9) In the recent Macropod survey why was the Wallaroo, given its status, not included in the survey – surely it is critical to monitor the circumstances of this species? Or did this species just get caught up in the general count?

The survey was undertaken to survey Victoria’s three Kangaroo species, as they are the species often subject to control under ATCWs. No other macropods were included in the survey.  In addition, the area of the state that the Wallaroo inhabits was excluded from the survey due to the difficulty surveying forested areas from the air.

It is important to note that Victoria is the edge of the Wallaroo’s range and although it is listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act in Victoria, the species is found throughout other eastern Australian states.

10) On the matter of abundance I note that your fire ground guide in relation to wildlife rescue says ‘Rehabilitation of orphaned milk dependent young for common species such as Macropods and Koalas is not supported’. Given that both Macropods (7 species now extinct in Victoria with two more on the brink) and Koalas (down to a fraction of one per cent of their Australian population 200 years ago), who has and why are these species described as common. I note this issue of abundance arises in the recent efforts to stop wild life carers in Victoria rescuing certain species. I challenge the descriptions of abundance here, given the very significant decline in species, both in number and distribution of a significant range of species in Victoria.

Although Koala populations in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory were listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 in 2012, the conservation status of the Koala in Victoria is considered to be secure. Koalas are considered overabundant in some areas of Victoria and impact on native flora through overbrowsing. Kangaroo species in Victoria are also considered secure.

DELWP is undertaking a review of the ATCW system and is seeking feedback from the community on ways to improve the system. DELWP recognises that there are often divergent views relating to wildlife management, and these views have been acknowledged in the ATCW review discussion paper.

The broader issues section of the discussion paper outlines concerns that stakeholders have raised during early consultation that relate to wildlife management, including restricting rehabilitation of overabundant wildlife that are often subject to control, such as Kangaroos.

DELWP does not have a plan to restrict the rehabilitation of overabundant species. Restricting rehabilitation of overabundant species is outside the scope of the ATCW review and not under consideration.

Note: Since writing these questions and further investigations and analysis of the findings we have now added the Red Kangaroo to the in danger of extinction group within the state. That is 7 species extinct, 3 more on the brink.

Written and copyrighted by Creative cowboy films https://www.creativecowboyfilms.com/

 

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Wildlife carers quitting after 30 years due to DELWP’s hostility towards kangaroos

Kangaroos nursed back to health after a planned fire escalated out of control now face a cull on the orders of the same department that ordered the burn. The very same department, DELWP, responsible for the care of wildlife, actually turned tail and permitted a “cull” of kangaroos, despite being tirelessly and lovingly nursed back to health by wildlife carers!

After a planned burn that started the Lancefield fire, they approved a six-month culling permit for the owner of a property that borders the shelter  – because of “damage caused by the kangaroos to the land”, where he runs sheep, and fences.  Surely more “damage” would be done by sheep than kangaroos?  However, the latter animals are economic assets, whereas kangaroos only have economic value when dead – for the pet meat trade!

The Authority to Control Wildlife permit application was approved, thanks to the farmer citing his desire to repasturise the land.  So, he can’t live harmoniously with native animals than have a minimal impact on grasslands?  This farmer got the go ahead to kill kangaroos on his property, which neighbours the Macedon Ranges (Victoria) Pastoria East Wildlife Shelter“All of the wild kangaroos here have been through that fire, they’ve all been impacted by it. They’ve lost habitat and food, they’ve been traumatised,” owner Christine Litchfield said.

Wildlife carers Ms Litchfield and Mr Ward say they are bemused by the department’s “heartbreaking” decision, considering DELWP formerly praised the work of the pair and wanted photos for an internal magazine!

“… Keep in mind we’re in a conservation zone, we are up against a large crown land forest. The idea that you’re going to kill kangaroos to stop this problem is unlikely to work completely,” Marcus Ward said.  What part of “conservation” do DELWP not understand?  What sort of Department, except an Orwellian one, would endorse the care and protection of wildlife – injured by their own “controlled burn” that got out of control – and also permit their “cull”?

 

Wildlife carers say they cannot continue to nurse injured kangaroos back to health only to risk having them shot by a neighbouring farmer once they are released.  These amazing people spend their own time and money on compassion and care for injured animals, only to have them lethally “managed”!  Marcus Ward, owner of the Pastoria East Wild Life Shelter, says he will have to close his doors after 30 years.

Under such a contradictory and twisted State government Department, presumably meant to be responsible for our wildlife, administer the Wildlife Act 1975, but at the same time approve of “culls” and the kangaroo meat industry in Victoria!  They can’t be the carers, conservationists and the killers at the same time – they are deeply embedded in conflicts of interests.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) decided not to prosecute the neighbouring property owner for animal cruelty, after kangaroos were shot in the body and left to bleed to death.  So, what and when do they actually do to protect wildlife in Victoria?

kangaroo-illegally-shot

“We can’t continue… knowing any animal that comes here is under risk,” Mr Ward said.

“That won’t change until we’re confident the culling won’t proceed.”  Without Macedon Ranges’ Pastoria East Wildlife Shelter, Mr Ward said rescuers had few local options for shelters to take kangaroos.

“The shelter in Kilmore is overloaded from the area, and the one in Hepburn that we rely on a lot closed their doors to any new animals last week,” he said.

Native animals, especially kangaroos, are enemies of Victoria, and land-holders – apparently.   The facade that DELWP have any care of responsibility for native animals is becoming thinner and they are being exposed as more interested in commercial kangaroo meat – and cleansing the State of our iconic native animals – in the name of “progress” and profits!

 

PETITION: Call of plan to “cull” kangaroos

 

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