Sir:- I refer to your reports and letters to the editor regarding the
decision to replace the requirement for a written destruction permit to
shoot common native parrots causing damage to commercial orchards with a proclamation advertised generally in the media.
This decision to change the method of control and simplify the procedure
was not taken lightly.
Indeed, it followed recommendations from the National Parks and Wildlife Council (NPWC) and the Wildlife Advisory Committee (WAC), through the Abundant Bird Reference Group, as well as Government agencies following consultation with grower organisations.
Both the NPWC and the WAC comprise independent specialists with practical
knowledge, skills and experiences.
For example, the WAC's Abundant Bird Reference Group includes the RSPCA.
It is important to recognise that the species to which the exemptions apply are common and have generally been the subject of destruction orders for many years, and that they cause significant damage to commercial orchards and vineyards.
In 1999/2000, horticultural industries sustained high levels
of fruit damage from rosellas and lorikeets, equating to a loss of $4
million. With the irrigation providing a regular water source, and the
orchard/vineyards providing a regular food source, some abundant species
of birds have required control for decades.
It should be noted that exemption from the requirement to
have a written permit are specific only to prescribed locations, persons,
circumstances and conditions, including compliance with the Prevention
of Cruelty to Animals Act 1985, and the Code of Practice for the Humane
Destruction of Birds by Shooting. A species identification pamphlet has
been prepared and distributed to growers and grower's organisations.
Also, exemption from permits do not represent a removal of protected status
under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972. The taking of prescribed
species in circumstances other than those specified without a destruction
permit is illegal and people doing so will be subject to prosecution.
It has long been recognised that one of the most appropriate strategies
to minimise the damage caused to fruit crops is to implement control when
conditions indicate that it is desirable.
Removing the requirement for a written destruction permit assisted commercial
orchardists and vignerons to act quickly to implement bird management
programs, integrating scare tactics, shooting and other devices to reduce
The removal of the requirement for written destruction permits
was carefully considered with a view to improving the State's management
for the conservation of native species by:
a) preventing the build-up of bird numbers on orchards by enabling orchardists
to implement scaring and shooting programs when birds first arrive, thus
maximising early deterrent capabilities while minimising the number of
bird deaths; and
b) enabling National Parks and
Wildlife SA and orchardists, to establish a cooperative approach to pest
native bird management by having practical and integrated management systems
that are sensitive to more vulnerable species, and that provide sustainable
long term strategies.
Many commercial growers have demonstrated a commitment to integrated bird
management by investing in a range of related techniques, such as passive
visual scaring, cover netting and/or exclusion netting.
Under the auspices of the Wildlife Advisory Committee, an independent
group of specialists and experts, Regional Bird Management Task Group
has been established to support and inform commercial growers of recent
innovations in bird management, and to engender responsible and humane
conduct of bird management programs.
To provide base line data on this issue, the Government has
recently established a research program to monitor these bird populations
in the affected areas.
Orchardists and vignerons are major landholders in regions such as the
Mt Lofty Ranges.
Engaging these landholders in environmental repair work is a major agenda
This requires the establishment of positive and cooperative
relationships that are based on mutual recognition of the problems facing
both landholders and the environment.
Minister for Environment and
Heritage; Minister for Recreation,
Sport and Racing; Minister
Responsible for Volunteers