Humane Society International (HSI) welcomes today's action by the Victorian Government to revoke a decades old decision that declared wombats 'unprotected' in 193 parishes across the state. This unprotected status allowed wombats to be killed at landholders' discretion without licensing or reporting requirements.
"We applaud the Victorian Government for closing this dreadful chapter in the state's history. For decades the atrocious loophole has given landholders across much of eastern Victoria free reign to cull wombats on their land,” said Evan Quartermain, Humane Society International's Head of Programs.
"A lack of oversight means the scale of suffering this 'unprotected' status has caused is largely unknown, but our analysis suggests it likely resulted in tens of thousands of wombats being shot with impunity.
"However, this move is just the first important step in ending the persecution of wombats in Victoria because landholders can still apply for licences to kill them.”
Today's Victoria Government Gazette details that the Governor in Council has revoked the 'unprotected' declaration for wombats under the state's Wildlife Act 1975, following a Departmental investigation launched by Victorian Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio. HSI wrote to the Minister urging action on the matter several months ago, and the Animal Justice Party and Greens have pursued it in Parliament.
While today's move is welcome, HSI remains deeply concerned that 'Authorities to Control Wildlife' that have authorised the killing of more than 25,000 wombats in the last decade in the regions of Victoria where wombats were considered 'protected' are still being issued. This figure may even increase with landholders in the formerly 'unprotected' regions now needing to obtain authorisation and report on their activities.
"This decision is just the first step. Wombats are still able to be killed in Victoria through 'Authorities to Control Wildlife' issued by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and HSI will not rest until this is no longer the case,” Mr Quartermain continued.
"Over the last decade Victoria has issued authorisations for more than 25,000 wombats to be killed, and that's on top of the unknown numbers culled in formerly 'unprotected' parishes. It's a distressing and excessive figure and it's imperative that this reprieve for wombats is not just notional.
"With simple solutions to prevent wombat damage to properties such as wombat gates now available there is simply no excuse for the carnage to continue.”
Humane Society International is proud to support a number of wombat carers involved in our Wildlife Land Trust private land conservation program, people who are on the front line dealing with injured and orphaned wombats at considerable personal cost, and is also fighting hard to elevate protection of wombats through several State and Federal Government legislative processes.
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