In Australia, pest animals cause major economic, environmental and social impacts at local, regional and national scales. Management of pest animals may be complex and requires a strong policy and legislative framework to guide and govern how pest animals are managed at all levels, and to set out the roles and responsibilities of those involved.
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.
State and territory legislation
Each of Australia’s states and territories has their own legislation for managing pest animals (Table 1).
Table 1: Relevant state and territory legislation and strategies related to pest animal management.
Relevant legislation and strategies
|Firearms Act 1996|
|Environment Protection Act 1997|
|ACT Pest Animal Management Strategy 2012-2022|
New South Wales
|Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002|
|Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979|
|NSW Invasive Species Plan 2008-2015|
|NSW Biosecurity Strategy 2013-2021|
|Wildlife Act 1975|
|National Parks Act 1975|
|Biosecurity Strategy for Victoria|
|Invasive Plants and Animals Policy Framework (IPAPF)|
|Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996|
|Queensland Pest Animal Strategy 2002 (under review)|
|Poisons Act 1971|
|Agricultural and Veterinary Chemical (Control of Use) Act 1995|
|Nature Conservation Act 2002|
|Animal Welfare Act|
|National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972|
|Dog Fence Act 1946|
|State Natural Resources Management Plan South Australia 2012-2017|
|Poisons Act 1964|
|Biological Control Act 1986|
|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
- ACT Pest Animal Management Strategy 2012-2022 (ACT)
- In NSW, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (part of Office of Environment and Heritage) have 14 regional pest strategies
- South East Regional Pest Management Strategy (SA)
- Townsville Local Government Area Pest Management Plan 2010-2014 (Qld) (under review)
|Author||Invasive Animals CRC|
|Publisher||Invasive Animals CRC|
|ISBN/ISSN||PestSmart code: GENFS5|
|Region||Australia - national|
PestSmart Toolkit: Best practice pest animal management