Author Archives: AWPC

The building blocks of extinction and biodiversity loss in Victoria

AWPC-Extinction-Victoria-June2020

Australian Wildlife Protection Council submissions to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the extinction crisis in Victoria.

 7 June 2020

Introduction:

Australian Wildlife Protection Council Inc (AWPC)

The AWPC is a not-for-profit wildlife education organisation and registered charity, founded by Arthur Queripel in 1969. The AWPC celebrates its 50th year of working on behalf of Australia’s precious wildlife.

“Arthur Queripel remembers seeing smouldering piles of Mallee scrub and mounds of dead Kangaroos and Emus following the round-ups after clearing”.

As the Mallee was cleared, Arthur witnessed mutilated Kangaroos on trucks as the commercial skin and meat trade got underway and saw too much casual cruelty. He sought help from the police, conservation departments and animal welfare organisations to no purpose, each organisation passing responsibility to the other. Arthur founded the AWPC with the aim of protecting Australian native animals from cruelty and exploitation. In the years following Arthur Queripel leadership, Maryland Wilson was the longest-serving president of the organisation. Maryland and many other notable wildlife defenders, here and overseas, worked tirelessly to help the most persecuted wildlife: Australia’s national emblem, the Kangaroo.

The AWPC holds a significant historical archive covering half a century of the mistreatment of Australia’s precious wildlife.

Peter Hylands, conservationist and film producer, is the current President of the Australian Wildlife Protection Council speaking on behalf of the national (and Victorian) AWPC committee and membership. Former Presidents include: Maryland Wilson, Peter Preuss, Arthur Queripel. Patron: Professor Peter Singer.

The natural world in Victoria

What appears to happen is that Australian native animals are continually pushed towards the brink, with all sorts of hideous claims about why they should be exterminated. Claims by the Victoria Government, even for animals like Koalas, were that they were over abundant. Prior to the 2020 fires the Victorian Government was suggesting that young Koalas should not be rescued from fire grounds.

The killing of native Australian wildlife is now so entrenched, and the sense of entitlement of governments promoting this behaviour and the individuals carrying it out, mean poor standards are applied. Just one example of many is that in Victoria and following an extensive trial (from 2014) to turn Victoria’s Kangaroos into pet food, the Government is not able to explain which species are being killed and consequently in what numbers.

So when Australian species have made that journey to the brink, many have gone over the edge, they become endangered, and then perhaps, if they are lucky, some attention and belated compassion is directed towards them. By then it is really too late.

So the trick is to stop endangering the native species that still remain and actually look after their habitat instead of ripping it down when every little bit of common sense provides a thousand reasons why the destruction should stop.

Learning about, and living with Australian wildlife, is an extraordinary privilege that must also be the right of future generations of Australians to enjoy.

Summary of recommendations

Climate change — Recommendation: Accelerate GHG emissions policies and review hazard reduction policies in Victoria based on scientific research. Apply pressure on Commonwealth Government to improve its performance. Key features here include questioning and moving beyond the idea that gas is a transitional energy source and improving governance and compliance (an active testing regime is required) in relation to building standards and energy codes in Victoria.

Economic structure — Recommendation: Within Victoria, urgently review those industries and activities that pose a significant threat to biodiversity in Victoria, the worst of all can either be replaced (coal), creating more jobs in renewables sector, are subsidised by the tax payer (many forestry practices) or are activities with no future that should cease with immediate effect, such as commercial harvesting of wildlife (Kangaroos) or hunting (Duck shooting) which contribute little to economic activity in the state and are significant actors in blocking out more beneficial knowledge based economic activity. Given that Victoria is currently very good at destroying its natural assets, a new way forward to help change current practices will be to develop a significant ecotourism industry. If we can do it for Penguins we can do it more broadly before it is too late.

The environmental impact v productivity of current farming methods in Victoria needs review, the Victorian Government should actively encourage farmers to learn to live with wildlife and more generally the natural world, the opposite is currently occurring.

Government — Recommendation: A long and deteriorating history of government conduct in relation to wildlife conservation clearly indicates that action is now required. In Victoria, that action is a restructuring of DELWP with the precise goal of extracting any responsibility for the care of biodiversity from this department and placing this vital task into the hands of a new department with the sole purpose of protecting Victoria’s environment and the plants and animals that live in it.

Human rights — Recommendation: Free from fear and threat — a new deal for wildlife carers and rescuers and proper protection for the lands surrounding wildlife shelters. The protection of people, their human rights and their property rights — for individuals and families investing in knowledge economy and conservation based activities and businesses in regional Victoria.

Protecting the web of life — Recommendation: Initiate proper and structured conservation activities and a state wide assessment of the current circumstances for Victoria’s species, in doing so to build the understanding of how to avoid further endangerment of all species in Victoria. This should include state wide and cross state border plans and long term objectives for species with the resources to properly monitor the wellbeing of species against plans. We can no longer afford a situation where there is a conflict of interest between the organisations driving key threatening processes, organisations that are also the enforcer and legislator. This practice has been all too common in Victoria and has resulted in the poor outcomes we see today.

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Dingo (Wild Dog) baiting in Southeastern Australia and Bushfire Recovery

Dear Minister/s,

17 February 2020

The Honourable Sussan Ley MP
Minister for Environment, Australia
Address: Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600
minister.ley@environment.gov.au

cc: The Honourable David Littleproud MP, Minister for Agriculture, Australia
(
minister.littleproud@agriculture.gov.au)
cc: The Honourable Lily D’Ambrosio MP, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Victoria (
lily.dambrosio@parliament.vic.gov.au)
cc: The Honourable Jaclyn Symes, Minister for Agriculture, Victoria
(
jaclyn.symes@parliament.vic.gov.au)
cc: The Honourable Matthew Kean MP, Minister for Energy and Environment, New
South Wales (
office@kean.minister.nsw.gov.au)
cc: The Honourable Adam Marshall MP, Minister for Agriculture, New South Wales
(
adam.marshall@parliament.nsw.gov.au)
cc: Dr Sally Box, Threatened Species Commissioner
(
ThreatenedSpeciesCommissioner@environment.gov.au)

The undersigned wish to express our expert opinion on the status of dingoes across Australia in light of the current bushfire emergency. At the time of writing, more than 10 million hectares has been burnt across Australia, including 1.2 million hectares in Victoria and 4.9 million hectares in New South Wales. Across southeastern Australia this represents burning of major dingo habitat zones in National Parks and State Forests. We commend the Federal, NSW and VIC State Governments for their focus on assisting fauna and flora recovery after the catastrophic 2019/2020 bushfire season, however, the proposed ‘feral predator’ aerial baiting plans are counterproductive to that aim. In particular, we wish to express concern about plans to undertake widespread 1080 “wild dog” aerial baiting across burnt habitat in NSW and VIC.

The prevailing wisdom is that introduced predators such as foxes and feral cats pose the most significant risk to native fauna (marsupials, birds, reptiles etc). These risks need to be proactively and swiftly managed to protect (already struggling) threatened species that have been endangered by recent bushfires. We agree that proactive measures to limit introduced predators may need to be taken but these should be targeted and not endanger native predators such as quolls, dingoes and varanids. Currently proposed aerial baiting programs will not target cats, leaving threatened species under increased pressure from these predators. It is also important to iterate that “wild dog” baiting will kill dingoes, leading to widespread mesopredator release, removing suppressive pressure on cat and fox populations exerted by dingoes.

Aerial baiting in bushfire affected southeastern Australia is an unacceptable risk to native carnivores Aerial baiting with 1080 poison poses an unacceptable risk to native predators such as quolls, dingoes and varanids because it is unknown if food scarcity in burnt landscape may increase bait consumption leading to poisoning of quolls or varanids. Furthermore, dingoes are highly susceptible to 1080 baiting and are included as a direct target of “wild dog” baiting efforts. Importantly, best-practice guidelines to limit 1080 baiting impacts on quolls suggests that all baits should be buried to a depth of more than 10 cm andaerial or broadcast surface baiting should only be used in areas where it can
be demonstrated that there is a low risk to spot-tailed quoll populations
(EPBC Act Policy Statement 3.4 — Significant impact guidelines for the endangered spot-tailed quoll Dasyurus maculatus maculatus (southeastern mainland population) and the use of 1080). Currently it is unknown how quolls and other non-target species will be impacted by aerial baiting in burnt habitat. Arguably, the recently proposed NSW “wildlife and conservation bushfire recovery” plan should be referred to the Federal Environment Minister under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 for assessment.

We strongly emphasise the ecological importance of terrestrial apex predators in  biodiversity resilience and ecosystem functioning. Dingoes are the sole non-human land-based top predator on the Australian mainland. Their importance to the ecological health and resilience of Australian ecosystems cannot be overstated, from regulating wild herbivore abundance (e.g. various kangaroo species), to reducing the impacts of feral mesopredators (cats, foxes) on native marsupials (Johnson & VanDerWal 2009; Wallach et al. 2010; Letnic et al. 2012; Letnic et al. 2013; Newsome et al. 2015; Morris & Letnic 2017). It would be hypothesised that continued dramatic reduction of dingo populations, by aerial baiting, will enable introduced mesopredators such as foxes and cats to exploit burnt areas unchecked, posing a high risk to threatened native species. The impacts of feral cats and red foxes are likely to be amplified in disturbed ecosystems, such as those burnt by bushfires. Indiscriminate and non-target specific lethal management should not be implemented if there is a risk to the persistence of threatened native fauna or ecosystem resilience.

We would urge the Federal, NSW and VIC State Governments to focus bushfire recovery efforts on proactive evidence-based measures including:

Installation of exclusion fences to protect recovering vegetation and wildlife communities (short-term)

Targeting lethal control measures to key refuge areas and important sites for remaining populations of threatened species

Limiting lethal control to targeted methods such as shooting, trapping or ground-baiting where steps are taken to limit non-target bait consumption

Providing supplemental shelter, food and water to identified remaining populations of threatened species

Increasing post-fire weed control to protect regeneration efforts.

 

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National Code of Practice for the Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes

Submission by the Australian Wildlife Protection Council

9 December 2019

INTRODUCTION

“The National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes outlines an achievable minimum standard of humane conduct with regard to the shooting of kangaroos and wallabies. The code was endorsed by the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council (NRMMC) on 7 November 2008. The NRMMC consists of the Australian state, territory and New Zealand government ministers responsible for primary industries, natural resources, environment and water policy.

The National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes is currently being reviewed through a project led by AgriFutures Australia. The review is being informed through a reference group of representatives from the Australian Veterinary Association, the RSPCA, industry and relevant government agencies”.

The Australian Wildlife Protection Council (AWPC), established in 1969 by Arthur Queripel, is a voice for Australia’s wildlife and for all Australian species.

The AWPC states that:

  • Humane is not a word that can be associated with the practice of commercialising the killing of Kangaroos, either in the micro detail of individual cruelty, nor in the macro scale of mass killings of families of dependent animals and the destruction of the structure of the mob by removing adults and large animals;
  • The reprehensible assertion that early stage pouch young do not feel pain is both highly questionable and unlikely, a scientific challenge would require some considerable research, and this needs to occur; and
  • The code has been and will continue to be impossible to enforce or check for compliance in any practical or safe way (this is freely admitted by state authorities).

The AWPC believes that the National Code of Practice for the Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes is a government endorsed document designed to conceal from international and domestic observers the fact of immense harm being caused to Australian wildlife by a cruel and unsustainable industry. There is no practical way the code can be supervised or enforced. A key issue remains the use of the word humane to describe the intensely cruel killing, with all its ‘tricks of the trade’.

AgriFutures Australia will need to begin using a new term to describe how animals are treated during ‘harvest’. ‘Humane’ it is not, unless the industry and regulators are of the opinion that death by distance shooting is humane, and (against the international tide of opinion which was firm when it considered the clubbing of seal pups) that beating small animals to death, is humane. Nor is it humane to not consider what happens to at-foot joeys when their mother is killed.

The RSPCA state that:

“The RSPCA would like to see the way in which Kangaroos are managed in Australia significantly improved — but for the purpose of this public consultation process, we are particularly concerned about the cruelty associated with non-commercial and recreational
Kangaroo shooting. Currently non-commercial shooters don’t have to pass a competency test, and don’t have to undertake mandatory training. There is also no oversight and little incentive to comply with animal welfare standards. We see this as the greatest immediate risk to the humane treatment of Kangaroos”.

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Newsflash: We need some good news and here it is!

greater-glider-petition-image-credit-Hans-and-Judy-Beste

Setting a national precedent for threatened wildlife.  

TWO CITIZEN/ COMMUNITY groups have secured court wins in the past month that should encourage wildlife defenders not to yield easily to the policy status quo. The cases revolved around development clearing or logging of remaining native forest, habitat for forest-dwelling wildlife. Greater gliders (pictured here, photo Hans and Judy Beste) were a focus in both cases.

In Victoria, Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum (FLBP), with the legal help of Enviro Justice Australia, secured a win against the state logging operation, VicForests, to protect the threatened Greater Glider and Leadbeater’s Possum from the chainsaws. The high canopies and deep hollows in the forests of Victoria’s Central Highlands that these native animals rely on will continue to stand as a result.

The court decision should set a national precedent for threatened wildlife, said Enviro Justice Australia in a communication to supporters. They praised the amazing community effort, including regional residents who spearheaded FLBP, citizen scientists and the legal team plus people from around Australia who donated dollars to the court action — always an expensive exercise.

Logging exempted from federal environmental law

“This decision sets an important legal precedent applying federal threatened species protection law to the logging industry, which has operated under a special exemption from federal environment law for more than 20 years. It will have implications for native forest logging and threatened species protection around the country.

This outcome will narrow that exemption and could also see the precautionary principle — that ensures serious or irreversible damage to threatened species is avoided wherever possible — applied in new situations to protect threatened species from harmful conduct. The decision also highlighted the flaw in a lot of Australian wildlife a management — never getting out of the office.

The judge explained the decision thus: 

“The Court has found that in planning and conducting its forestry operations and in the choice of which native forests should be logged, and how it should be logged, VicForests’ consideration and application of management options pays insufficient regard to matters such as the high quality of the habitat for the Greater Glider in the impugned coupes, the detections of Greater Gliders in fact using and occupying the forests in and around those coupes and the effects of wildlife on Greater Glider habitat in reserves and national parks. Instead, the court has found VicForests relies on “desktop” and other theoretical methods, which the court has found to be flawed, such as VicForests’ habitat mapping.”    — Justice Mortimer. 

NSW community doesn’t give up on fight for Glider

In NSW meanwhile, a determined community group that included most of the residents of the south coast community of Manyana, Shoalhaven, achieved a federal court-ordered temporary halt for assessment of wildlife presence in the last patch of unburned forest in their area. The threat is subdivision development. The court ordered a pause to assess whether the forest is habitat for the endangered Greater Glider as well as other forest-dependent wildlife.

Residents resorted to media-catching activities like yoga beside the road and surf-board sculptures and enlisted the help of the NSW Environmental Defenders Office (EDO).

With the surrounding bushland burned down in the 2019–2020 fires, the residents fired-up a change.org petition gaining close to 200,000 signatures so far; lobbied NSW politicians; and enlisted celebrity help and the EDO to stop the bulldozers from clearing for a large suburban-style subdivision. That subdivision had first achieved NSW planning approval a decade ago.

The case highlights the threats and impacts of global warming, droughts and fires on top of the ordinary development threats to Australia’s native species.


PETITION UPDATE:
A big win for a little community.
By Bill Eger. Manyana, Australia.

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Thank you Coronavirus, Climate Change, Drought, Fire …

awpc-duck-SEASON-feature-may2020

2020 DUCK HUNTING SEASON SEES FEW SHOOTERS.
But sadly, also fewer birds.

AS THE VICTORIAN Labor government comes under increasing pressure to stop enabling the barbaric slaughter of Australia’s beautiful water birds for some people’s idea of fun, duck defenders are more organised than ever.

They have told us at the Australian Wildlife Protection Council (AWPC) there are few birds to be seen this year on the state’s plentiful wetlands. Mercifully, there are also few shooters in 2020 — so far. (The Victorian season is supposed to end June 8 and before that regional activists worry about motels opening up and more shooters settling in with doubtful social distancing).

Why do politicians support this carnage? Traditionally, votes and money. A recent government figure claims about 48,000 licensed game hunters in Victoria. Less than half may be duck shooters. Field and Game Australia represent a percentage and published figures indicate that active shooters may be on the decrease.

A 2018 ABC report quoted former NSW Premier Bob Carr (who banned duck hunting in NSW) advising Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to stop worrying and ban the slaughter. Andrews hasn’t, despite Victorian Labor MPs voting to stop the hunt.

(Click on the READ MORE links to get the full reports, all worth a look.)

Bob Carr urges Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to ban duck hunting
[READ MORE]

On May 20, the ABC (on its website and TV) published drone footage of drug-taking by an armed hunter. That’s illegal. Mind you, the drinking before the shooting is considered an unremarkable part of Australian wildlife-killing culture. Also published was documented evidence of shooters ignoring hunting rules, eg footage of an injured duck thrown to dogs. Or not bothering with euthanasing injured birds, widely reported every year.

Victorian duck shooter’s guns seized and licence suspended after drone spies suspect behaviour
[READ MORE]

The game authority and its policing aids in Victoria have for years come under sustained criticism, but the status quo remains — almost no policing or prosecution, except for policing of demonstrators. Rescuers reported that a person was fined at Hospital Swamp near Geelong on 23 May for rescuing a sick swan. Fine around $1,000. Hospital Swamp is part of internationally protected RAMSAR wetland Lake Connewarre.

Victorian Agriculture Minister ‘very concerned’ after leaked report claims hunters are regularly breaking law
[READ MORE]

South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory also enable wild bird slaughter. There is no evidence things are better in those states.

Scientists have told authorities as recently as November 2019 that waterbird populations have fallen by up to 90 percent in the eastern states thanks to drought and mismanagement of water policies. That still did not move the executive of the states approving bird hunting.

Waterbird population has fallen as much as 90 percent in Australia’s east, shows 37-year study
[READ MORE]

The story from the front line, and have your say

Veteran water bird defender Laurie Levy gave AWPC this report (below) in May. It looks back at how a lengthy campaign built, and what duck defenders saw this year in Victoria. Will it all be too late? Not if enough citizens keep the pressure on.

> VIEW FULL POST HERE


Related pictures and stories from past Australian Duck Hunting seasons:

  • Ramsar? Really?  by Creative Cowboy Films  [VIEW]
  • Ugly Duckling  by Creative Cowboy Films  [VIEW]

HAVE YOUR SAY

Contact, or write to your nearest Australian Conservation or Welfare Minister.

[ DOWNLOAD PDF ]

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Want to help? One way — sign a petition.

koala-petition-get-up

Protect our Koalas

Our koalas were devastated during the fires. Now logging might cost them what little habitat they have left. Can you sign the petition demanding the NSW Government take action now?

Petition: Protect our Koalas

www.getup.org.au


Halt the Extinction of the Greater Glider

Australian Scientists have known that the magical and beautiful Greater Glider was on its way to extinction. Its been called a cross between a flying Koala and a Possum. In Conjola National Park NSW and the surrounding forests they were making a comeback. It had taken over 20 years. That was until the extinction event of the East Coast Bushfires 2019. Especially the Currowan Fire. IMAGE: Hans and Judy Beste.

> Link to PETITION UPDATE  [27 May 2020, Bill Eger].

Petition: Halt the Extinction of the Greater Glider

change.org


Toxic poison including 1080 is used to kill Dingoes

Sign the Change.org petition #BAN1080
AGAINST 1080 THAT HAS ALREADY GARNERED 28,000+ SIGNATURES

     — and PASS IT ON.


UPDATE: Save Mt Lofty Koala Habitat
(Toowoomba, Qld)

It’s not quite over yet folks, stay tuned.

> View original story here.


Close all Wildlife Trading Markets Globally

The COVID-19 pandemic is thought to have emerged from a wet market for wildlife in Wuhan, China. If so this cruel and dangerous trade is culpable for millions getting sick and dying, workers losing their jobs and businesses going broke.

Click on heading below to link to more petition information.

Petition: Close all Wildlife Trading Markets Globally

change.org


Stop Kangaroo Cruelty in NSW!

This petition was started by the AWPC in 2019 to appeal to the NSW Government and Opposition andis now appealing to the NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean and the Premier Gladys Berejiklian to stop the practice of widespread, unmonitored shooting of kangaroos to please farmers. This is continuing despite the bushfires that have killed hundreds of millions of NSW’s native animals, with remaining populations uncertain.

    > Read more here.

Sign the petition here.
change.org


 

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