Who is the Invasive Species Council?

The Invasive Species Council (ISC) was formed by Tim Low in response to his concerns regarding the growing problem of invasive species in Australia. The group became an incorporated organisation in July 2002.

Low’s initial direction for the ISC was to form a group with a primary focus to lobby against invasive species of all kinds. When questioned by Jane Faulkner back in 2003 (see ‘Noxious Nasties’, The Age, February 6, 2003) as to whether the council was going to just be another ‘powerless’ thorn in the side of governments, business and private industry, Low indicated that it would not. He said that the founders of the ISC didn’t see the ISC that way and they would not be a radical fringe group. He advised that they want to work with other people, but also have their own clear agenda.

One must question why the ISC, like many other ‘private’ lobby groups, labelled their group with a name that could easily confuse the unsuspecting public into thinking that they are a government organisation. Is it possible that the choice of name is a deliberate ploy used by small pressure groups to gain media attention? Having people inadvertently think that they are supporting a legitimate government body can certainly have its benefits and can assist in securing funding to continue pushing their agendas.

The claim that they are not a radical fringe group needs to be explored, as should the statement that they want to work with people. The early years of the ISC appeared to run true to their original focus, but the appointment of Carol Booth as a policy officer has recently seen the focus of the ISC shift away from sensible invasive species discussion to one of anti-hunting rhetoric. The inclusion of a section on the ISC website that appears to be dedicated to discrediting conservation hunting as a way to reduce feral animals is quite disconcerting. Concerning is the fact that they have previously stated they want to ‘work’ with people for positive outcomes, but have now turned their back on a large community group, who, as a whole, are determined to do their part in the feral animal control effort. Most experienced people associated with feral animal control know that there is no one magical method of control. The more tools you have in the toolbox will allow you the greatest chance of success in any feral animal control program.

In the past, Booth has been personally affiliated with groups with an anti-hunting ideology. The release of one of her most recent papers on an anti-gun lobby website provides further indication that her professional credibility may be weaker than her bias towards those who accept and participate in the hunting of feral animals.

In her critique of the SSAA’s latest ‘Hunting in Perspective’ ASJ, Booth comments that the ISC has the strongest potential reasons to support recreational hunting than other conservation Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), but it doesn’t. Her own bias against hunting is evident in her attempts to discredit hunting as ineffective, as well as producing statements that it could even worsen the feral animal problem. She attempts to find flaw in the effectiveness of hunting feral animals by raising the point that hunters themselves say duck hunting does not have an effect on duck populations.

To attempt to justify an argument against hunting as an effective form of feral animal control by judging it against the minimal impact of duck hunting is like comparing chalk and cheese. Duck hunting is based on sustainable game management principles where regulated seasons and bag limits are set to ensure a harvest of birds from a doomed surplus and has no impact on overall duck populations. The aim of feral animal control, however, is to reduce populations and this normally involves culling as many as possible at any one time, which is totally the opposite to duck hunting. Developing such an argument that indicates similarities in management regimes poses questions about the writer’s scientific and academic credibility and overall understanding of the concepts involved.

Most councils are known for collecting our rubbish, but thanks to the writings of Carol Booth, the Invasive Species Council is now distributing it. By preaching an anti-hunting agenda, the relevance of this organisation is quickly diminishing.

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