Risk assessment for the import and keeping of exotic vertebrates in Australia
At least 70 species of non-indigenous vertebrates have established wild populations in Australia and over 30 of these species are pests. In addition to posing a considerable threat to conservation values, the economic cost of these species is at least $700 million per year, mainly in lost agricultural production.
There is a risk that further environmental and agricultural impact will result from new exotic species becoming established in the wild. Therefore governments need to put systems in place to ensure that ‘high risk’ species – those that could readily establish and become pests in the wild – are not imported into Australia. This requires a scientific risk assessment process to objectively assess import applications as well as border management to ensure that species are not illegally or accidentally introduced.
The Bureau of Rural Sciences has developed and validated risk assessment models (Bomford 2003, 2006, 2008), which have been endorsed by the National Vertebrate Pests Committee and provide a robust system for screening potential imports or assessing exotic species already in Australia. The Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts uses these models for assessing the suitability of exotic animals for live import into Australia.
These 2008 models include updated risk assessment models for the introduction of birds and mammals, of freshwater fish, and of reptiles and amphibians to Australia. They also include new models for assessing the risk of establishment of birds and mammals to New Zealand (Bomford 2008).
The 2008 models for Australia have been recently tested by the Western Australian Department of Agriculture and Food to assess the risks posed by 40 exotic vertebrates.
A national workshop was held by the IA CRC in February 2009 to review government risk assessment processes for the import and keeping of exotic animals in Australia. The workshop’s main aim was to produce recommendations for an improved system for regulating import and keeping, to ensure we are adequately protected from new vertebrate pest incursions. The workshop proceedings can be downloaded here.
Risk assessments and alerts
- Review of grey listed non-native ornamental fish species - Reviewed 125 non-native ornamental grey listed fish species using the Bureau of Rural Sciences (BRS) Grey List Review methodology
- Detecting and preventing new incursions of exotic animals in Australia - Incursions and interceptions of exotic vertebrates in Australia that have occurred within the country and at the national border, over the past 10 years
- DAFWA and Alternative Threat Categories - Risk assessments for reptiles (Boa constrictor, Rhinoceros viper, corn snake & pond slider) and amphibians (cane toad, black-spined toad & asiatic painted frog)
- Workshop Proceedings: Risk assessment processes for import and keeping of exotic vertebrates in Australia - Workshop to review government risk assessment processes for the import and keeping of exotic vertebrates in Australia
- Data tables used to develop risk assessment models - Tables used to develop Risk Assessment models for the establishment of exotic vertebrates in Australia
- List of exotic animals in Australia subject to risk assessment - Threat categories of exotic mammals, birds, reptiles & amphibians to Australia
- Risk assessment for the establishment of exotic vertebrates in Australia: recalibration and refinement of models - Successfully introduced species had high climate match scores and failed species had low scores and this difference was highly statistically significant
- Guidelines for the Import, Movement and Keeping of Non-indigenous Vertebrates in Australia - National approach to minimise the risks posed by the importation movement and keeping of exotic vertebrates
- List of Exotic Vertebrate Animals in Australia (2007) - Threats posed by non-native vertebrate mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles held in Australia.