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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio (lily.d’email@example.com) 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:
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).
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).
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
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.
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’.
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