David Littleproud has mocked a Victorian parliamentary inquiry for recommending pest-management practices that do not use lethal control methods as a first measure, suggesting the ‘plain bizarre’ plan would ‘destroy’ the state’s environment and agriculture sector.
The minister published a statement on Friday describing the committee report as an example of the state parliamentary committee being out of touch with reality. If the advice of the report were followed and no lethal control methods were used to manage pests, he said, there would be an explosion in population numbers for dingos, foxes, feral deer, pigs, cats and rabbits.
The Victorian report made two recommendations to support non-lethal pest control for dingos only — one regarding a trial for the reintroduction of dingoes as an apex predator in ‘suitable ecosystems’, and another recommending that the state government work with Agriculture Victoria to improve non-lethal strategies for protecting livestock in areas with ‘increased levels of predation’.
“The Andrews government must move quickly to dismiss this fairytale and sign up to the federal government’s pest and weeds program,” Littleproud said.
“The battle against pests and weeds is a constant battle to protect Australia’s prime agricultural land and unique environment.”
Last December a report was tabled in the Victorian parliament about a committee inquiry into ecosystem decline in the state. The inquiry was initiated by the state Greens MPs.
The report explained that under state wildlife laws, non-lethal methods must be initially considered for the management of protected animals that posed a threat to livestock, such as dingos, or flying foxes, which can pose a threat to property.
The committee found that Victoria’s current legislative framework was conflicted on the issue of dingo management, because it regarded, at different times, dingoes and dingo-hybrids (sometimes also referred to as ‘wild dogs’) as both a threatened species and a pest animal.
“The committee considers that these mechanisms are not in line with community expectations and the Victorian government’s obligation to protect and conserve the dingo in accordance with Action Statement No. 248, made for the purposes of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Vic),” the report read.
We're hearing that dingos are widely killed in Victoria as part of 'Wild Dog' control. However, research suggests that wild dogs aren't an established invasive species in Victoria. So we're really just killing dingos. #threatenedspecies #ecosysteminquiry
— Ellen Sandell (@ellensandell) February 23, 2021
The committee also acknowledged ‘widespread concerns’ over the state’s authority to control wildlife (the ATCW permit system), overseen by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
“[The committee] considers that allowing private landowners to control threatened species through non-lethal means, and in some circumstances through lethal means, does little to assist the conservation of threatened species in the state and may further exacerbate species decline, including in areas of key habitat,” the report read.
In his statement, Littleproud counted the cost of vertebrate pests, saying they attracted $800 million in production losses and control activities each year. This was in addition to their impact on native flora and fragile ecosystems.
“Premier [Daniel] Andrews must show leadership and reject the recommendations of the parliamentary committee that will see the population of pests to blow out and cause massive damage to Australia’s agriculture and environment,” Littleproud said, noting the Victorian Labor government has committed to contributing to a program of on-ground management — including trapping, baiting, culling, and biological control release — that the federal government has put $20 million towards.