Legislation & management of pest animals

GENFS5_picIn 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.

National strategies

policy_frameworkThe 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



Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

Australian Pest Animal Strategy

Quarantine Act 1908 (Biosecurity Act 2015 pending royal assent)

AUSVETPLAN (Australian Veterinary Emergency Plan)

Agricultural and Veterninary 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 2008-2015

Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995

NSW Biosecurity Strategy 2013-2021

Pesticides Act 1999



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)


Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management Act) 2002

Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996

Animal Care and Protection Act 2001

Queensland Pest Animal Strategy 2002 (under review)

Nature Conservation Act 1992



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

Author Invasive Animals CRC
Year 2014
Publisher Invasive Animals CRC
Pages 2 pp
ISBN/ISSN PestSmart code: GENFS5
Region Australia - national

PestSmart Toolkit: Best practice pest animal management


GENFS5 PestSmart Factsheet: Legislation & management of pest animals   [265kb PDF]