Reviewing the framework for the management of protected wildlife (animals) in Queensland

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1 Reviewing the framework for the management of protected wildlife (animals) in Queensland June 2016

2 Prepared by: Department of Environment and Heritage Protection State of Queensland, The Queensland Government supports and encourages the dissemination and exchange of its information. The copyright in this publication is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY) licence. Under this licence you are free, without having to seek our permission, to use this publication in accordance with the licence terms. You must keep intact the copyright notice and attribute the State of Queensland as the source of the publication. For more information on this licence, visit Disclaimer This document has been prepared with all due diligence and care, based on the best available information at the time of publication. The department holds no responsibility for any errors or omissions within this document. Any decisions made by other parties based on this document are solely the responsibility of those parties. Information contained in this document is from a number of sources and, as such, does not necessarily represent government or departmental policy. If you need to access this document in a language other than English, please call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) on and ask them to telephone Library Services on This publication can be made available in an alternative format (e.g. large print or audiotape) on request for people with vision impairment; phone or Citation White SA, Green DG, Brown T & Black F Report title: Report subtitle. Brisbane: Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Queensland Government. EHP Townsville: Department of Environment and Heritage Protection Government. June 2016

3 Contents Introduction... 1 Scope of review... 1 Background... 2 Current management of protected wildlife in Queensland... 2 Managing wildlife in other states and territories... 5 Issues with the current framework... 5 Unregulated take of animals from the wild... 5 Outdated and inefficient system for keeping protected animals... 6 Outdated and inefficient system for moving protected animals, creating opportunity for illegal trade... 7 Unnecessary regulatory and administrative burden... 7 Options for regulation review... 8 Where to from here?... 9 Submissions... 9 Next Steps... 9 iii

4 Discussion paper: Reviewing the framework for the management of protected wildlife (animals) in Queensland Introduction This discussion paper has been prepared as part of a statutory review of the legislative framework for protected wildlife under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (the Act). In recent years the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (the department) has undertaken strategic reviews of the frameworks for protected plants, marine mammals and crocodile management. This paper focuses on protected animals as the remaining wildlife components of the legislative framework and outlines the current issues, trends and options for improving the management of protected animals in Queensland. Protected animals are animals that are native to Queensland. This excludes exotic and domestic animals. People interact with protected animals in many ways, from keeping animals such as birds and reptiles as pets or a hobby, to caring for those that are orphaned, sick or injured for release back to the wild, or just watching and enjoying animals in the wild. In other instances, there are community and industry expectations to deal with protected animals damaging property or affecting health and safety. Protected animals are also used for commercial gain in some circumstances through activities such as pet sales and zoo exhibits. The government's continued role in the management of protected animals aims to reflect community interests while conserving nature. It is about protecting Queensland s unique and diverse wildlife, whilst allowing for ecologically sustainable use of protected animals. The last comprehensive review of the management of protected animals in Queensland was undertaken in Since then, there have been significant improvements in our understanding of protected animals and management approaches, and Queensland s legislative environment has continued to change to reflect these advances and meet community expectations. The department is currently seeking comments on the current regulation of protected animals, such as the strengths and weaknesses of the current regulatory framework, issues raised in this discussion paper, and any other suggestions or concerns. 1

5 Scope of review The management of native wildlife in Queensland remains largely the responsibility of the State Government and is regulated under the Act, and subordinate legislation, including the Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006, the Nature Conservation (Administration) Regulation 2006, and the Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation These regulations are collectively known as the Nature Conservation Regulations. There are also several conservation plans in place under the Act, for the management of specific wildlife, including the koala, estuarine crocodile and harvested macropods. In accordance with the Statutory Instruments Act 1992, the Nature Conservation Regulations and conservation plans for the koala and harvested macropods are due to expire on 1 September This provides the department with an opportunity to consider the effectiveness of the current regulatory framework and to examine alternative strategies for managing wildlife, with a view to strengthen conservation outcomes for wildlife and ensure the framework aligns with modern and best practice for taking, interfering with, and keeping wildlife. The review also provides an opportunity to examine ways to remove unnecessary regulatory burden on low risk management actions. While the review focuses on reforming the management framework for protected animals, the regulation of animal breeding places will be excluded from the review, and due to its relationship with vegetation clearing, will be considered in future reviews to the protected plant framework. The conservation plan for the koala (the Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2006) will be reviewed in conjunction with the current planning reform program of work. This is because the conservation plan links with elements of the planning framework, such as the South East Queensland Koala Conservation State Planning Regulatory Provisions, and the State Planning Policy. Consequently, the review of this conservation plan needs to be consistent with the approach undertaken in the new planning framework. Detail on the planning framework review can be found by searching for 'better planning for Queensland' at the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning's website However, in the interim, the plan will be revised to remove provisions that are no longer in effect. The Nature Conservation (Macropod) Conservation Plan 2006 for harvested macropods will also be excluded from the review, as it is currently under review through a separate process. Background Current management of protected wildlife in Queensland The Act, Nature Conservation Regulations, and conservation plans work together to protect native animals. They achieve this by: regulating the following actions: taking a protected animal (hunting, shooting, killing, luring, injuring, catching, trapping or harming an animal); keeping a protected animal (possessing or controlling an animal, in any place); and using a protected animal (buying, selling, giving away, processing, moving or gaining benefit from the animal). allowing for permits, licences, and authorities to be granted for: dealing with protected animals in the wild; keeping protected animals in captivity; and moving protected animals. categorising protected animals based on conservation status - which is an indicator of the risk to the species' ongoing survival - as follows: extinct in the wild; endangered, vulnerable, and near threatened - collectively termed EVNT; and least concern. categorising wildlife for the purpose of keeping in captivity as follows: commercial keep and use; recreational keep and use; international species; and exempt keep and use. This framework ensures that impacts to protected animals are ecologically sustainable, risks to human health and safety are minimised, and that wildlife-based industries can operate under an appropriate regulatory framework. The framework including the types of permits and licences mentioned in Table 1 is discussed further below. 2

6 Table 1: Existing animal licence and permit framework Authority Commercial Wildlife Licence (Wildlife Interaction) Commercial Wildlife Licence Commercial Wildlife Licence (Mobile) Recreational Wildlife Licence Commercial Wildlife Harvesting Licence Recreational Wildlife Harvesting Licence Farming Licence Museum Licence Wildlife Demonstrator Licence Wildlife Exhibitor Licence Damage Mitigation Permit Educational Purposes Permit Scientific Purposes Permit Rehabilitation Permit Keep Protected Wildlife Permit Wildlife Movement Permit Related activity Interacting with protected animals in the wild. Keeping and trading in protected animals in captivity. Keeping and moving dead macropod species for commercial processing. Keeping and trading protected animals in captivity for a person s own personal enjoyment. Harvesting protected animals from the wild for commercial purposes. Harvesting macropods from the wild for non-commercial purposes. Keeping protected animals that are listed as farm animals in captivity, for farming purposes. Keeping protected animals in captivity to be kept or used in a museum. Keeping a protected animal for a travelling or temporary display. Keeping a protected animal for display in an exhibit. Removing protected animals from the wild (lethally or non-lethally) for damage mitigation purposes. Taking protected animals from the wild for educational purposes, or keeping protected animals in captivity for educational purposes. Taking protected animals from the wild for scientific purposes, or keeping protected animals in captivity for scientific purposes. Taking a sick or injured protected animal from the wild and keeping the protected animal in captivity for rehabilitation. Keeping protected animals in captivity, if the keep is not otherwise authorised under a licence or permit. Moving protected animals that are kept in captivity. Dealing with protected animals in the wild A licence or permit is required for almost all activities that involve taking, keeping and using protected animals in the wild. In limited circumstances, a wildlife harvesting licence can be obtained to sustainably harvest a protected animal in the wild. Harvesting is generally limited to a small number of species, including three macropod species (red kangaroo, eastern grey kangaroo and wallaroo) for meat or skins, certain venomous elapid snakes for venom extraction, and protected scorpions and spiders, to be used in the pet trade. Harvesting other protected animals is not restricted but is generally unviable due to the difficulty in demonstrating the sustainability of harvest, and the requirement for a payment equal to the assessed conservation value of the species. For example, a person may apply for a wildlife harvesting licence to harvest a vulnerable reptile from the wild if they could demonstrate that the 3

7 harvest was sustainable, however payment of the relevant conservation value of $10,047 per animal would be required. A commercial wildlife licence (wildlife interaction) is also required to interact with protected wildlife in the wild for commercial purposes (i.e. financial gain), such as feeding or luring wild animals as part of a tourist attraction. A permit can also be obtained for certain activities. These activities are: using protected animals for scientific and educational activities; removing protected animals causing damage or loss of property and health and wellbeing impacts; undertaking wildlife services such as spotter/catcher services or fauna surveys; and rehabilitating sick or injured protected animal. There are some activities which are exempt from requiring an authority under the regulations, such as: catching and keeping least concern amphibians on a person s property for their private enjoyment; and catching and keeping protected scorpions and spiders from the wild for recreational purposes. Taking protected animals under extraordinary circumstances (i.e. destroying an animal posing an immediate threat to a person's safety) can also occur in particular circumstances without an authority. For example, if a venomous snake was posing an immediate threat to a person's safety, an authority is not required to deal with the snake. Keeping protected animals in captivity In most cases, a licence or permit is required to keep and use protected animals. Protected animals are primarily kept and used as pets or as a hobby, with activities classified as either being for a commercial or recreational purpose. A commercial wildlife licence allows businesses to keep and use (buy and sell) protected animals. Animals permitted under a commercial wildlife licence include: 60 species of bird; 17 species of reptiles; and protected scorpions and spiders. A recreational wildlife licence allows a person to keep protected animals as pets and use (buy and sell) protected animals as long as the activity is not part of a commercial operation, such as a pet shop. Although very similar to a commercial wildlife licence, a recreational wildlife licence allows a greater variety of species to be kept. Animals permitted under a recreational wildlife licence include: any reptile, with the exception of crocodiles and sea turtles; amphibians that are captive bred, and 107 species of bird, including 47 bird species that are not permitted under a commercial wildlife licence. In particular circumstances, some protected animals can be kept without a licence. Animals that can be kept and used without a licence include: 22 species of captive-bred birds that are well established in the pet industry, such as the galah, sulphur-crested cockatoo, Gouldian finch and cockatiel; and protected scorpions and spiders, kept and used for recreational purposes. In certain circumstances, a 'permit to keep protected wildlife' can be obtained to keep protected animals for purposes that would otherwise be restricted. This includes protected animals that unsuccessfully undergo rehabilitation and can't be released back into the wild, or for native animals that cannot be kept in Queensland when the animals are moved into Queensland, from another state. A licence or permit is also required for other activities involving keeping and using protected animals. A commercial wildlife licence can be obtained for trading dead protected animals (e.g. skins) for limited species. A farming licence can be obtained to allow businesses to keep and use venomous snakes, certain butterfly species, emus, and crocodiles, for farming purposes only. Protected animals can also be kept and used by zoos or other similar businesses, under a wildlife exhibitor licence or a wildlife display licence. From 1 July 2016 this will be regulated under the Exhibited Animals Act

8 Moving protected animals Trade in wildlife is an international conservation issue and can pose a serious threat to Australia's unique biodiversity. The regulation of wildlife movement plays a vital role in minimising conservation risks and reducing opportunities for illegal trade, by monitoring movement within Queensland, Australia and overseas. As a result, a movement permit or advice or written approval from the department may also be required for certain actions. A permit is required to move a special native animal (koala, platypus, echidna, or wombat); move live mammals interstate intended for export, import exotic animals, or moving (not selling) a native animal when the owner moves interstate with the animal. An advice notice is required to move protected animals from the seller to buyer within the state or interstate. Record keeping is also required in some circumstances to monitor movement. Managing wildlife in other states and territories All Australian state and territory jurisdictions use similar frameworks to Queensland's for the management of native wildlife. Each jurisdiction provides a legislative framework to protect native animals and therefore regulates take, keep, use and movement of native animals. Each jurisdiction requires some form of authority for most activities to occur. While the frameworks are similar, some jurisdictions allow for increased opportunities to take wildlife from the wild, keep a greater range of wildlife in captivity, or allow particular activities to occur without an authority. All jurisdictions regulate the movement of native wildlife taken from the wild or held in captivity. Movement of any exempt native species (e.g. particular common birds) does not require an authority in any jurisdiction. Most jurisdictions require an authority for moving protected animals, as well as the import or export of native and nonnative animals (i.e. exotic species or pests). In Queensland, non-native animals are addressed through Queensland's biosecurity framework and are therefore not managed under the nature conservation framework. Information about this can be found by searching for 'biosecurity' at Generally all jurisdictions categorise wildlife based on conservation status or for the purposes of commercial use. Issues with the current framework Since the last comprehensive review of the management of protected animals, the department has identified a number of issues with the Nature Conservation Regulations and conservation plans. Unregulated take of animals from the wild The department is concerned that unregulated take of particular animals from the wild is causing threats to species long term viability. Under the current framework a person can, without an authority, take unlimited numbers of protected scorpions and spiders for personal enjoyment. Also a person, without an authority, can take up to eight least concern amphibians for personal enjoyment. Due to the increasing popularity in keeping protected scorpions and spiders (especially tarantulas), there is concern that harvesting pressures are threatening regional and localised populations of these animals. Also, given the lack of taxonomic knowledge of these species, harvesting may have already contributed to the extinction of certain undescribed species. Under the current framework, a person can also take and keep least concern amphibians for recreational purposes, without an authority. This raises a significant conservation concern, as the unregulated take, movement and release of these animals can introduce disease, such as chytrid fungus (which has contributed to major global declines in amphibians), into natural populations of both common and threatened frog species. In addition, there is a high possibility that persons collecting frogs are incorrectly identifying least concern species and unintentionally taking threatened or near threatened species. Seeking feedback Do you think take of species from the wild (for instance frogs, scorpions and spiders) should be regulated to ensure that the process is sustainable and does not threaten the long-term viability of the species? 5

9 Outdated and inefficient system for keeping protected animals The Nature Conservation Regulations are no longer contemporary and do not reflect the progressiveness of Australia s native wildlife industry, particularly in relation to the increasing popularity of captive-bred reptiles and the variety of species that can be commonly traded nationwide. The current framework imposes excessive regulation on commercial activities compared to the private 'recreational' keeping and trading sector. Due to the current regulatory environment and the increasing popularity of keeping and trading captive-bred animals, recreational (private) operators are keeping more species (including species that commercial holders cannot keep) and undertaking equivalent levels of trade to that of commercial operators. For example, a pet shop owner is currently limited to 17 reptile species that can be lawfully traded, whereas a private 'recreational' holder can trade all least concern reptiles that can be lawfully obtained. This could equate to several hundred species depending on what is available in the captive-bred market. In any given financial year, the private holder could trade more animals than the pet shop owner even though commercial licence holders are subject to significantly increased fees $1776 for 3-year commercial licence, compared to $73 for 5-year recreational licence. This fee structure is not proportionate to the current level of compliance resources to monitor and enforce the law. In addition, the variety of species that can be kept under an authority has not been reviewed for over ten years and is generally seen as outdated compared to most other Australian jurisdictions. In particular, bird species that can be kept in Queensland are limited compared to the range of species that are commonly traded in most other jurisdictions. Furthermore, there may be species that are now over or under regulated in response to advances in the native pet industry, and therefore a review of the animal schedules should be undertaken to ensure adequate measures are in place to support the wildlife keeping industry and conserve wild populations into the future. Seeking feedback Is the current framework for keeping protected animals in Queensland too complex? How could the framework be improved? Is the current framework for keeping protected animals outdated compared to other Australian jurisdictions? Do you think there is a better way to class licence types, rather than the current 'commercial' and 'recreational' distinction? 6

10 Outdated and inefficient system for moving protected animals, creating opportunity for illegal trade The current record keeping system used to regulate wildlife keeping and trading creates significant gaps in data on protected animals kept in captivity. This leads to increased opportunities to falsify records and conceal illegal take and trade of protected animals, causing significant conservation risks in Queensland and throughout Australia. Seeking feedback Would an electronic system (e.g. recording movement advices and records online) create an easier system for keeping and moving protected wildlife? Unnecessary regulatory and administrative burden While there is no doubt the survival of some species relies on strict regulations and the enforcement of laws protecting wildlife, there are other cases where current regulations are out of proportion with the potential risks to nature conservation. For particular activities that have minimal impact to conservation or are necessary for public safety purposes, the current regulation places regulatory and administrative burden on government and industry. There are also a number of administrative issues with the current framework. There is a complex system of permits, licences and other authorities, making the framework is overly complex, with requirements spread across the Nature Conservation Regulations, conservation plans and various codes of practice. Seeking feedback Are there low risk activities that should be subject to a lower level of regulation - such as through selfassessable approaches? Are there low risk activities that should be exempt from requirements of the nature conservation framework? Are the Nature Conservation Regulations too complex? 7

11 Options for regulation review As the Nature Conservation Regulations are due to expire soon, the department is considering three main options for the continued management of Queensland's protected animals: Option 1: Let the Nature Conservation Regulations and relevant conservation plans expire; Option 2: Status quo remake the Nature Conservation Regulations and relevant conservation plans in their current state; and Option 3 (preferred option): Remake the Nature Conservation Regulations and relevant conservation plans with a view to address the identified policy issues. Whilst investigating these options, a 12 month continuation of the existing Nature Conservation Regulations and relevant conservation plans will be sought to ensure there is no unintended consequences from their lapsing whilst the review is underway. Preferred option The preferred option is option 3. Option 3 is preferred as it retains existing regulatory measures that are working well, whilst providing opportunities to improve on the current regulatory framework by addressing the identified issues. Option 3 will remake the existing Nature Conservation Regulations with amendments to achieve the following: strengthened conservation outcomes for protected animals in the wild; improvement of the framework for keeping protected animals to better manage trade practices and illegal trafficking of wildlife; and the provision of opportunities to streamline the regulations and remove unnecessary regulatory burden. 8

12 Where to from here? The department is seeking comments on the current regulation of protected wildlife, such as the strengths and weaknesses of the current framework, issues and questions raised in this discussion paper, or any other suggestions or comments. Submissions Electronic submissions: Written submissions: Business Reform Unit Conservation and Sustainability Policy Department of Environment and Heritage Protection GPO Box 2454, Brisbane, QLD, 4001 Submission timeframe closes at 5pm on Friday 29 July. Next steps This initial feedback will be used to inform a Regulatory Impact Statement process. The purpose of the Regulatory Impact Statement is to ensure regulatory best practice is met for the development assessment and improvement of regulation. The Regulatory Impact Statement will analyse the 3 options listed in this paper and provide an informed, objective and transparent basis for decision making. The consultation version of the Regulatory Impact Statement is expected to be released for public comment in the second half of

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