Parliament discusses status of hog deer
The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia
8 September 2009
Senator Milne asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, upon notice, on 22 June 2009:
(1) Given that in 2007 the Australian Vertebrate Pests Committee identified Hog Deer as an invasive pest species that is widespread, does the Government agree with the Victorian Government’s pest management policy that includes the listing of Hog Deer as a protected threatened species under the Victorian Wildlife Act 1975.
(2) Given that Hog Deer is a known national pest found in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria, is there a consistent national approach to Hog Deer management including, but not limited to, the instruction for each State to eliminate this species; if not, why not; if so, can details be provided.
(3) In regard to the implementation of national strategies for pest eradication including the 2007 Australian Pest Animal Strategy and the 1996 National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia’s Biological Diversity, what action, if any, is the Commonwealth Government prepared to take to ensure ongoing cooperation and compliance from the Victorian Government in the implementation of such national strategies.
(4) (a) What is the extent of damage done by Hog Deer in Victoria, to Ramsar wetlands and Commonwealth-listed threatened species habitat (flora and fauna) and threatened plant communities; and (b) what actions must be undertaken by the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments to mitigate, eliminate and then remediate any affected areas.
(5) What is the Commonwealth Government doing to fulfill its obligations under the international Ramsar agreement.
(6) Given that the 2008 Threatened Species Scientific Committee has already identified that there is an increasing risk that Hog Deer will create widespread environmental damage of significant impact on areas such as sensitive ridges and wetlands, will the Commonwealth Government immediately instruct the Victorian Government to simultaneously implement contemporary pest control measures and a rigorous research program to eliminate Hog Deer; if not, why not.
Senator Wong: The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts has provided the following answer to the Honourable Senator’s question:
(1) The Vertebrate Pests Committee lists Hog Deer as a serious threat and advises that the species should only be introduced for public display and education purposes, and/or for genuine scientific research approved by the relevant state/territory authority. Individual states and territories are able to use this advice as best fits their situation as the land managers.
(2) The Australian Pest Animal Strategy outlines Australia’s strategy for management of pest animals. This strategy is agreed to by all jurisdictions. Victoria has listed the Hog Deer species as protected wildlife under the Victorian Wildlife Act 1975, and the species is further protected by being declared ‘game’ by a Governor-in-Council Order which amended the existing legislation to further protect the species from being taken outside a prescribed season. Therefore this limits the Commonwealth’s ability to participate in the management of the hog deer in Victoria. The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) provides for the identification and listing of Key Threatening Process, and associated Threat Abatement Plans, which are applicable to land owned or managed by the Commonwealth. This has not been considered necessary for Hog Deer to date. On-ground management on crown and private lands is the responsibility of the respective state governments.
(3) The Australian Pest Animal Strategy is implemented through the Vertebrate Pests Committee and relies on the cooperation of all jurisdictions to achieve the desired outcomes. A Strategy Implementation Group was established and works cooperatively with all jurisdictions. The National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia’s Biological Diversity is currently undergoing a collaborative review with states, territories, and the CSIRO. There will be responsibilities for all jurisdictions in implementing the revised strategy.
(4) The EPBC Act provides for the regulation by the Australian Government of new developments or activities that are likely to have a significant impact on defined matters of national environmental significance, including Ramsar wetlands and listed nationally threatened species. The legislation does not provide the Government with a legal ability to regulate, manage or control Hog Deer. A number of national recovery plans and conservation advices prepared for individual listed species identify trampling, browsing and grazing by feral animals, including Rusa, Sambar and Hog Deer, as ongoing threats to the recovery of the listed species. Control and management of these threats may be considered for funding through Caring for our Country and other programs.
(5) Victoria has direct management responsibility for the Gippsland Lakes Ramsar site and the successful management of the site relies on effective cooperation and partnership between the various management agencies. The Australian Government is currently funding an Ecological Character Description (ECD) for the Gippsland Lakes Ramsar site which will describe its ecological character and will examine available evidence to consider if the ecological character of the site has changed since the time of listing and the causes of any such changes.
(6) The Commonwealth Government can provide support to the Victorian Government through the various planning and policy documents outlined above. The management of land where Hog Deer live within Victoria is the responsibility of the Victorian Government.