Wild dog policy and legislation considerations

Legal status and management:
Wild dogs are identified by the national Vertebrate Pests Committee as a ‘Category 5 / Extreme’ species. Category 5 means that the animal is a recognised pest that is both widespread and established, while an Extreme classification indicates that such animals should not be allowed to enter, nor be kept in any state or territory without permission. Wild dogs are also identified as a pest animal under the Australian Pest Animal Strategy.

Because of these classifications, wild dog management is  constrained by legislation and policy, with various guidelines, codes  of practice, and standard operating procedures applying. Legislation  and policy often vary between jurisdictions at local and state levels, with overriding federal laws also affecting wild dog management.  There are also other more generic Acts that function across  jurisdictions. Violation of laws related to wild dog management can  attract serious penalties (eg fines and jail time) for individuals and  agencies. In general, the following types of regulations should be considered before beginning any wild dog management activity.

Laws relating to animal welfare:
There are laws in every state and territory that address the need to  treat all animals humanely, whether they are considered pests or  not. People managing wild dogs are obligated to use control  methods that minimise any potential pain, fear or distress. These  obligations encompass a wide range of activities from the capture and relocation of animals, through to poisoning, shooting or  trapping. Codes of practice, standard operating procedures, and  best-practice guidelines for the management of wild dogs have been  developed, are publically available, and should be followed in order  to prevent cruelty to animals during control operations.

Laws relating to land tenure:
The legal status of wild dogs varies with different land tenures. In  many cases, wild dogs are a ‘protected species’ in national parks and  conservation reserves, while they are considered ‘declared pests’ in  many livestock production areas. Listing wild dogs as protected or declared places certain restrictions and obligations on those  intending to manage wild dogs in a given area. Certain management  activities are not legally permissible on all tenures. Permission to  access various land tenures should also be considered.

Laws relating to the conservation status of specific wild dog populations:
Laws can sometimes vary between specific populations or types of  wild dog. For example, an isolated island population (such as those o n  Fraser Island) might be considered a unique natural asset worthy  of conservation. Alternatively, people might want to only conserve pure dingoes but eliminate impure hybrids and feral dogs. Because it  can be hard to identify the purity of an individual wild dog just from how it looks, land tenure (or the expected location of important populations) is often used to define areas where different  restrictions apply. For example, controlling all wild dogs (pure or otherwise) may be allowed along the boundaries of some conservation reserves, while core areas within a reserve may be set  aside for wild dog conservation.

Laws relating to the use of specific control techniques:
Various control techniques are also often governed by laws  independent of their use on wild dogs. For example, there is specific legislation dealing with the use of firearms, which are often used to euthanise wild dogs in trapping or shooting programs. Various laws also govern the use of poisons and other veterinary drugs used to kill or safely handle wild dogs. Many of these chemicals have label instructions and directions for use that are legally binding. Wild dog managers are not freed from obligations under these laws even when other obligations (such as animal welfare and land tenure considerations) have been met.

Laws relating to the use of animals for research and teaching:
Not all wild dog management activities require the destruction of animals, and alternative legislation governs the use of animals for researching and teaching purposes. Some wild dog management activities might be considered ‘research and teaching activities’ in some jurisdictions, such as the systematic use of infra-red trail cameras or attaching tracking collars to wild dogs. If this is the case, various additional permits and approvals may be required before management activities can begin.

Laws relating to the keeping, sale, and movement of wild dogs:
Because wild dogs may be considered protected or declared, native or introduced, or a risk to livestock or not, laws differ between jurisdictions with respect to the keeping, sale and movement of wild dogs. Different states and territories may or may not allow the keeping of wild dogs as pets. A permit may be required to do so, and although allowed in one area, wild dogs may not be transportable to another state or tenure. Wild dogs may be seized and euthanised if they are being kept illegally.

WDFS3_quoteLegal obligations on owners of land where wild dogs occur:
The responsibility to manage wild dogs rests largely with the owners or managers of the land where wild dogs occur. This presents challenges in places where wild dogs roam between multiple properties, and these are usually sorted out through community wild dog management plans. In places where wild dogs are considered pests, landowners have a responsibility to control wild dogs on their land and prevent them from causing problems on neighbouring lands. On lands where wild dog conservation measures are applied, managers have a responsibility to ensure that wild dogs are not leaving those lands or causing problems in adjacent areas. These obligations apply to private, leased and crown lands. There are likely to be penalties for people and agencies that do not abide by the rules.

EPBC Act considerations:
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 oversees the management of vulnerable and endangered native species, populations and ecological communities. The EPBC Act lists all the native species currently at risk from a variety of factors. The EPBC Act also lists the key threatening processes (KTP) known to affect threatened species. Predation by wild dogs has not been recognised as a KTP in national legislation but is recognised as such in New South Wales. Important to the management of wild dogs, all new wild dog control programs must be reviewed under the EPBC Act before they are put in place, to assess the program’s risk to threatened species in the area. For example, if wild dog control is to begin in a national park where control has not taken place previously, the proposal must be assessed before it can start.

Author Centre for Invasive Species Solutions
Year 2016
Publisher Centre for Invasive Species Solutions
Pages 2 pp
ISBN/ISSN PestSmart code: WDFS3
Region Australia - national
Documents PestSmart Factsheet: Wild dog policy and legislation considerations (312 kb PDF)
Links https://www.pestsmart.org.au/pest-animal-species/wild-dog/