Under the Australian Constitution, pest management is the responsibility of the state and territory governments. The Australian Government plays a supportive role, investing strategically where it is in the national interest to do so. State and territory governments may legislate specific responsibilities for land managers in the management of pest animals. Governments or industry may endorse codes of practice and standard operating procedures or guidelines to provide guidance to land managers on specific aspects of pest animal management.
The Australian Pest Animal Strategy (APAS) is a national strategy providing guidance for the effective and humane control of vertebrate pest animals and mitigation of their impacts on Australia’s biodiversity, agricultural assets and social values. It complements existing and new strategies for other biosecurity issues including weeds, marine pests and animal welfare.
The APAS is guided by the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity. The APAS is also guided by a range of national strategies and action plans, including both the Australian Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and threat abatements plans under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The APAS focuses on two key areas: 1) mitigation of the damage caused by exotic vertebrate animals (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish) that have become pests in Australia, and 2) prevention of the establishment of new exotic vertebrate pests.
Under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, a number of pest animals are recognised as threats to native animals and plants. The impacts of some pest animals have been listed as Key Threatening Processes and plans to reduce the threats they pose (known as a threat abatement plan) have been developed for unmanaged goats, feral cats, rabbits, foxes, cane toads, feral pigs and exotic rodents. Feral camels are the subject of a national action plan for management as an Established Pest of National Significance under the APAS.
The humane control of pest animals in Australia is guided by a set of Model Codes of Practice which were developed under the former Vertebrate Pests Committee. The Standard Operating Procedures describe the best practice application of recommended management techniques for a range of pest animal species. These documents are designed to help pest operators ensure they are using and applying control techniques safely and appropriately. Misuse of chemical tools and failure to follow the recommended procedures could result in harm to the user, animals and/or the environment, and could threaten the future availability and effectiveness of these techniques. Anyone engaged in pest animal management should make sure they follow standard operating procedures, and comply with the product manufacturer’s label instructions and relevant state or territory legislation.
Each of Australia’s states and territories has their own legislation for managing pest animals (Table 1).
Table 1: Relevant federal, state and territory legislation and strategies related to pest animal management.
Local and regional strategies
Ideally, local and regional management of pest animals is guided by formal pest management plans and strategies. These plans are usually administered by natural resource management (NRM) agencies, catchment management authorities, government pest agencies or local government, with assistance and input from key stakeholders and the local community.
Examples of local and regional pest strategies