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RSPCA Policy E1 Wild animals – General principles

1.1The RSPCA recognises that all wild animals, whether they are native, introduced, or considered a ‘pest’ are sentient, capable of experiencing pain and distress.


‘Wild animals’ are animals (native and introduced) living and/or reproducing in the wild on land or in water.

Native animals are animals who are indigenous to Australia (may be referred to as wildlife).

‘Introduced animals, introduced species’ are animals who are not indigenous to Australia. Animals who have reverted from a domesticated to a wild state are often referred to as ‘feral animals’ (e.g. horses, camels, pigs and goats).

‘Animals perceived as pests’ are wild animals who (may be native or introduced species) have a negative impact on the environment, other animals, agriculture, or other human activities, health or safety.
1.2The RSPCA advocates for the humane treatment of wild animals in relation to care, management, use or interaction.


‘Management’ refers to programs aimed at management of populations of animals to reduce negative impacts either on a vulnerable species (e.g. conservation program) or caused by a target species (e.g. different strategies may be used including fertility control, deterrents or lethal methods).

Control’ refers to a method used to reduce numbers of target animals; for instance, fertility control or lethal control (e.g. shooting, poisoning).

‘Target species’ are those animals identified as subject to management under a wild animals management program. Non-target animals are animals co-existing in the same environment who are not subject to but may be negatively impacted by management activities.
1.3The RSPCA advocates urgent action to address the impacts of climate change on wild animals.
1.4The RSPCA supports the establishment and maintenance of national parks, marine protected areas and conservation zones to preserve genetic diversity, promote biodiversity, sustainability and protect native animals from harmful human impacts. Access to use such areas should only be permitted where the impact on the welfare of individual animals has been considered and mitigated and where the long-term viability of the ecosystem is not compromised.
1.5The RSPCA supports the ratification and implementation by the Australian government of international treaties, conventions and agreements which serve to protect biodiversity and promote the humane treatment of wild animals.
1.6The RSPCA supports national coordination and leadership in wild animal management, and the conservation and protection of native animals and their ecosystems, to achieve greater national consistency (through national action plans), collaboration, and the efficient use of resources in the development and implementation of more humane and effective control methods for wild animals across Australia.
1.7The RSPCA considers that the development, implementation, and enforcement of mandatory standards of animal welfare, based on contemporary scientific knowledge and in line with community expectations, is an important pathway towards continuous improvement in the welfare of wild animals, wherever people interact with them.
1.8The RSPCA believes that the care, management, control and use of, and interactions with wild animals must be regulated to protect animal welfare, ensure compliance with all relevant animal welfare standards, and encourage compliance with all relevant animal welfare guidelines. This regulation should be subject to regular and independent auditing to ensure that the welfare of wild animals is not being compromised.
1.9The RSPCA advocates that people involved in planning, implementing and evaluating wild animal management programs and care of captive wild animals have relevant skills and knowledge to avoid injury, pain, suffering, and distress to wild animals.

An animal’s physical and mental needs are what the animal requires to have good physical health and mental wellbeing (including positive feelings and experiences).

(adopted 08/04/2024)

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Updated on April 24, 2024

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

Reference to ‘the RSPCA’ or ‘RSPCA’ in this document means RSPCA Australia and each of the RSPCA Australia member Societies.

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