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RSPCA Policy E02 Management of wild animals


RSPCA Australia acknowledges that in some circumstances it is necessary to manage populations of wild animals, native or introduced. There are three main reasons used to justify the management of wild animals:

  • to protect the welfare of individual animals
  • to help conserve a threatened, endangered or vulnerable native species
  • to reduce adverse impacts on human activities or the environment.

It is noted that in most cases these problems have arisen as a result of human activities or interventions.

2.2Any measures taken to manage wild animals must recognise that whether an animal is native, introduced or viewed as a ‘pest’ does not affect its capacity to experience pain, suffering or distress.
2.3Programs and strategies which prescribe the management of wild animals (such as threat abatement plans and native animal management plans) must be justified, supported by scientific evidence and have clearly stated aims. Such programs should be subject to public consultation, ethical approval and review prior to implementation. Once implemented, the results of such programs should be regularly monitored, evaluated, publicly reported and used to inform future activities.
2.4Management activities (such as on-ground intervention or control) should only be undertaken if it is likely that the aims of the program can be achieved. The methods used must be humane, target-specific and effective (see E2.10).
2.5Once the aims of a management program have been achieved, steps must be taken to ensure that the outcomes are maintained in the long-term.

RSPCA Australia advocates the adoption and implementation of compulsory codes of practice and standard operating procedures for all wild animal management activities.

See www.pestsmart.org.au/animal-welfare/humane-codes

2.7Protecting the welfare of wild animals
2.7.1Management programs aimed at protecting the welfare of individual animals or populations may be necessary where populations are subjected to severe environmental stress, habitat fragmentation, disease or human activity. Such programs must only be carried out under the supervision of the relevant government agency.

In some circumstances it is considered necessary to reduce the size of a given population of wild animals for the long-term benefit of that population. The killing of animals for this reason should only be permitted where it can be carried out humanely and there is no non-lethal, humane and effective alternative available (see E2.10).

See also E3 Rescue and rehabilitation of wild animals

2.8Conserving native species
2.8.1Management programs aimed at conserving native animals, including threatened, endangered or vulnerable species centre on habitat protection, but include strategies such as captive breeding, translocation and release of animals. Care must be taken to minimise any adverse effects of these activities on the welfare of both target and non-target animals. Such programs must only be carried out under the supervision of the relevant government agency.
2.9Reducing adverse impacts of wild animals

Many introduced animals, and some native animals, are viewed as ‘pests’ because of their adverse impacts on human activities, health and wellbeing or the environment. These adverse impacts include:

  • land degradation, ecosystem effects, and predation and competition with native species
  • losses to agricultural, horticultural and forestry production, including grazing competition, damage to crops, predation on domestic animals and damage to infrastructure
  • risks to public health and safety
  • other human activities such as tourism, recreation and transport.

RSPCA Australia acknowledges that, in certain circumstances, it is necessary to manage populations of wild animals in order to reduce these impacts.

2.9.2Management programs must be aimed at reducing adverse impacts rather than simply reducing the number of animals. RSPCA Australia is opposed to the use of incentive methods (such as bounty systems) where these focus on killing animals rather than reducing impacts.
2.9.3Wherever possible, pest control measures should be carried out as part of an integrated pest animal management program in consultation with the relevant government agency. Lethal methods must only be used where there is no non-lethal, humane alternative available that is effective at achieving the program’s aims.
2.10Management and control methods

RSPCA Australia is opposed to the use of inhumane methods of controlling or managing wild animals. A totally humane method is one which does not cause any pain, suffering or distress to target and non-target animals.

See also Policy G1 Humane killing

2.10.2When determining the method of control, the most humane method that will effectively achieve the aims of the management program must be used.
2.10.3The humaneness of a given control method is influenced by its application and the skill of the operator. Control methods must be applied in the best possible way by trained and competent operators.

RSPCA Australia supports the independent assessment of the relative humaneness of control methods and the publication of these assessments to assist in identifying the most humane available methods for a given situation.

See Sharp T and Saunders G (2008). A model for assessing the relative humaneness of pest animal control methods. Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra, ACT

2.10.5RSPCA Australia believes there is a continuing need to improve current control methods or replace them with more humane and effective alternatives. The RSPCA supports research and development of humane alternatives, including the replacement of lethal methods with humane and effective non-lethal methods, such as reproductive control.

(adopted 06/12/10)

Also Read

Updated on December 9, 2020

RSPCA policies reflect the best available evidence to direct and guide RSPCA and others, to promote and achieve good animal welfare outcomes.

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