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.

National strategies

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.

Government 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.

State/Territory Relevant legislation and strategies
Commonwealth Biosecurity Act 2015 Australian Pest Animal Strategy
Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 AUSVETPLAN (Australian Veterinary Emergency Plan)
Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994 Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity (IGAB)
Biological Control Act 1984  
Pest Plants and Animals Act 2005 Firearms Act 1996
Nature Conservation Act 2014 Environment Protection Act 1997
Animal Welfare Act 1992 ACT Pest Animal Management Strategy 2012-2022
Prohibited Weapons Act 1996
New South Wales Local Land Services Act 2013 Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002
National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979
Wild Dog Destruction Act 1921 NSW Invasive Species Plan 2018-21
Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 NSW Biosecurity Strategy 2013-2021
Pesticides Act 1999 NSW Biosecurity Act 2015
Victoria Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 Wildlife Act 1975
Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 National Parks Act 1975
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 Biosecurity Strategy for Victoria
Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 Invasive Plants and Animals Policy Framework (IPAPF)
Queensland Biosecurity Act 2014 Medicines and Poisons Act 2019
Animal Care and Protection Act 2001
Queensland Invasive Plants and Animals Strategy 2019-2024
Tasmania Vermin Control Act 2000 Poisons Act 1971
Cat Management Act 2009 Agricultural and Veterinary Chemical (Control of Use) Act 1995
Animal Welfare Act 1993 Nature Conservation Act 2002
Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2006 Animal Welfare Act
South Australia Natural Resources Management Act 2004 National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972
Animal Welfare Act 1985 Dog Fence Act 1946
Controlled Substances Act 1984 State Natural Resources Management Plan South Australia 2012-2017
Agriculture and Related Resources Protection Act 1976 Poisons Act 1964
Animal Welfare Act 2002 Biological Control Act 1986
Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 Wildlife Conservation Act 1950

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