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Dingos: Victorian Agriculture Minister undermines Threatened Species provisions

President of the National Dingo Preservation and Recovery Program1, and animal research ethics expert, Dr Ian Gunn, today, Wednesday September 10, 2014, expressed dismay at the Victorian Minister for Agriculture, Peter Walsh’s proposal to undermine measures put in place by the previous Labor government under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, to protect the Dingo (Canis lupus subsp Dingo) as a threatened native species in Victoria.

A central issue for the NDPRP, Dr Gunn said, concerns the Minister’s abolition of a 3 kilometre boundary, or ‘buffer zone’, at the interface of public and private land, within which dingoes can be legally controlled (trapped, poisoned or shot) to protect farm livestock from predation. Up to now, dingoes have been protected beyond 3 kilometres, unless special permission was acquired from departmental environmental authorities.

The altered provisions will allow the killing of dingoes beyond 3 kilometres. This buffer zone reflected the decision of the then Minister for the Environment, Gavan Jennings, in 2010 that the three kilometre buffer zone represented a workable compromise between protecting dingo populations and protection of farm stock. The three kilometre buffer zone was given legal standing as part of the provisions of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act and was arrived at after extensive stakeholder consultation throughout 2009.

Dr Gunn stated that a number of fundamental questions are raised about the integrity of the way in which threatened species provisions are dealt with in Victoria as a result of Minister Walsh’s alteration of the measures put in place to protect the Dingo in Victoria:

• Only 12 months ago, in September 2013, Minister Walsh renewed the existing dingo threatened species protection measures, including the 3 kilometre buffer zone, for a further 5 years. What could have changed so dramatically in the recent period to alter his 2013 decision that this was an appropriate measure?

• The Minister’s actions appear to indicate an unwillingness to conduct open and transparent government in relation to the natural environment. The existing dingo protection measures were put in place under the previous Labor government as a result of extensive, drawn out consultations with a broad range of stakeholders, including farming and environmental organisations. Yet, the measures are now being hastily removed without any comparable level of consultation.

Dr Gunn reminded the Minister of his obligation to govern in the interests of all Victorians, and for the protection of the natural environment, and not for the benefit of special sectional interests, and called upon any future Victorian Labor government to reinstate the previous provisions of the dingo threatened species listing.

Contact: Dr Ian Gunn BVSc. FACVSc.0427 387778 (mob.)ian.gunn@monash.edu

Footnote[s]

1. National Dingo Preservation and Recovery Program (Inc. A0051763G )

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