Category Archives: SUBMISSIONS to Govt

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.

DOWNLOAD DOCUMENT
to continue reading from p3, (Building blocks of extinction 1: Climate change)

 

Share This:

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.

 

DOWNLOAD DOCUMENT
to continue reading from top p3, (Dingoes have a fundamental …)

 

Share This:

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”.

DOWNLOAD DOCUMENT
to continue reading from p2, (Background)

 

Share This: