Sydney, January 22: Amidst Australia’s worst bushfire season, the Federal government has announced a fund for emergency wildlife and habitat recovery. Animal Liberation has blasted the initiative as a farce that funds the government’s underlying agenda to kill unwanted wildlife, placing survivors of the fires at heightened risk.
Despite losing an estimated 1.25 billion animals, the government has allocated a mere $50 million towards “wildlife and habitat recovery” efforts. From this, a substantial amount will be used to “control” unwanted species. Animal Liberation has criticised the reactive focus of the fund, claiming that throwing cash at cruel animal control methods will only exasperate the problems we are facing.
“We must be crystal clear, we support the brave and important work that Australians are doing in the face of this disaster. We are awed by the bravery of our firefighters, volunteer wildlife rescue workers, and those that are supporting their work.
While providing funds to various groups is necessary, we also need a long-term plan that addresses the climate crisis. Nature is fighting back, from floods to fires and the endless drought, we need proactive policies now. Despite these warning signs, Scomo has admitted that he will keep his head firmly in the sand.”Alex Vince, campaign co-ordinator for Animal Liberation and the Coalition of Australians Against 1080 Poison.
Breaking down the “Emergency Wildlife Fund”
The emergency wildlife and habitat recovery fund was given a total of $50m. How the money is spent is based on advice from a panel led by the Threatened Species Commissioner, Sally Box. The initial amount given to control unwanted wildlife is unknown, however, up to an additional $7m will be used in the near future. Aside from essential funds provided to wildlife rescuers on the frontlines, this figure exceeds all other receipts in the entire emergency fund.
“It isn’t entirely surprising that such a significant amount is being spent on killing unwanted animals. We have harboured concerns that moves like this would be made, but we didn’t expect them to come so soon or with such substantial financial backing.
Government’s have been dropping indiscriminate 1080-laced baits across the country for the better part of six decades. Yet, they’ve failed to make any difference to population numbers. The only success government lethal programs can claim is a trail of dead animals and unknown environmental impacts.
This isn’t the time to continue killing in the guise of conservation. It’s time we put our intellect, energy and funding to better use. If the government were serious about conservation, they would already have a plan to reduce logging, mining and intensive animal agriculture.Alex Vince, campaign co-ordinator for Animal Liberation and the Coalition of Australians Against 1080 Poison.
The funds designated for lethal control operations in burnt bushland will inevitably include 1080 baiting. Although disguised as an attempt safeguard surviving native animals, it is actually placing them at additional risk.
“We mustn’t forget that wild animal management is big business Down Under. Big bucks are spent on completely ineffective and poorly managed programs. This is representative of a knee-jerk dependency on lethal techniques writ large. Every dollar spent adding more poison to the environment is only another band-aid on a gaping wound.
We don’t know the total funding figure that state and federal governments are funnelling into the pest control industry. It is likely to be far higher than the average Australian would estimate. We do know that between fiscal years 2019 through 2021, a total of $10m will be made available through the Federal government.
These emergency funds are totting up an already incredibly lucrative industry. Many of the agencies, institutions, companies and individuals getting given a slice of the pie are entirely dependent on people continuing to use poison. It simply beggars belief that such significant amounts of money are being thrown at problems that have far more effective, humane and operational alternatives”.
The Impacts of 1080 Poison
Australia has liberally used 1080 poison since it was first developed during wartime and introduced in the 1950s. Poisoning unwanted wildlife is commonly justified as a cruel-but-necessary management tool. Misinformation is deliberately spread regarding the immunity of native species. This ignores the risks it poses to other animals – from bees to birds and every animal in between. This includes a range of native species, such as the vulnerable and endangered native Tiger Quoll.
“Quolls are a resourceful and resilient species. Population numbers bounce back after fires, however, they’re incredibly susceptible to 1080. Studies assessing the toll 1080 takes on Tiger Quoll populations post-bait are unequivocal. Up to 100% of individuals in baited areas are dead in the immediate aftermath. That’s local extinction. It’s a severe cost that we’re expected to consider collateral damage.
This means that quolls face the same death as dingoes and foxes, even though 1080 is supposedly used to protect them.
We don’t want the community to be hoodwinked anymore. Killing more animals won’t allow others to survive. 1080 is an indiscriminate killer – pure and simple. It should not be anywhere near survivors of these bushfires.
Animal Liberation is calling on NSW Councils and the National Parks and Wildlife Service to issue an urgent moratorium on 1080 baiting in all impacted areas. A petition circulated by the Coalition currently contains over 1,500 signatures.