The conservation of wild animals should go hand-in-hand with animal welfare. They are two branches of the same thing. Conservation protects wild animals and animal welfare laws protect wild and domestic animals. However, in Australia conservation is in direct conflict with animal welfare. They’ve got themselves into an unholy mess on the issue of animal welfare. They are tearing their hair out and trying to deal with invasive species to protect native species.
What should be a harmonious relationship between conservation and animal welfare has become a dichotomy with a clear division between the two. In order to protect their native species, they have to be cruel to invasive species. They’re even cruel to their own species.
Normally it would be illegal to shoot kangaroos in Australia but about 3 million adult kangaroos are shot or killed in other ways in Australia annually. I’ve seen photographs of shooters going out lamping taking pot shots at kangaroos having great fun no doubt in doing their bit for the nation while being completely insensitive to the cruelty and pain that they are causing.
We all know about feral cats in Australia. The authorities regard them as an invasive species preying upon small marsupials and mammals which they want to protect. They kill feral cats in any way they can and they don’t care whether it’s cruel and painful. It’s a massive act of speciesism gone mad. In normal times the way Australians treat feral cats would be a humongous breach of animal welfare laws but it isn’t because they make exceptions. The exceptions drive a horse and cart through animal welfare.
And today, another invasive species has been reported in the news media: deer. The UK’s Guardian newspaper reports on feral deer becoming a “slow-moving plague” on the continent of Australia. Deer were first introduced into Australia from Europe in the 19th century as game animals. Domestic cats were first introduced into Australia with the early settlers. They became feral. They procreated and now there are millions of them in the interior. The authorities don’t know how many there are but they guess and then they guess how many animals they kill. But it’s a big guessing game which they present as fact.
Deer populations are expanding and it is said that they have major impacts by destroying native vegetation and irritating the citizens of Australia as they wander down high streets or sunbathe on beaches. One man was startled to find a deer sunbathing on a beach in the Royal National Park south of Sydney according to The Guardian.
Farmers are annoyed because deer affects their productivity. I guess they eat pasture designed to feed livestock. Farmers probably treat them as pests and they want tighter pest controls instigated in order to deal with pesky deer. One cattle farmer, Rowley, manages the problem by hiring a “deer harvester” to shoot feral deer for commercial use. It seems they go out at night using thermal scanners and night vision rifle scopes to detect beer and pop them off. More fun for the shooters. More pain for the animals.
Experts say that it is time to bring the deer population under control. There has been an increased frequency of stories describing the negative impact that they have on farms. Andrew Cox, the chief executive of the Invasive Species Council describes deer as voracious eaters that can strip the under-storey of large areas bare.
Australia is doing battle with trying to find a balance between conservation and animal welfare. In my opinion they are failing on this. They are also failing on climate control. They’ve been selling coal to China for ages which stokes up carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causing global warming. And then Australia has massive forest fires destroying wildlife habitat and the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef, which is completely counter to the objectives of the nation’s wishes to conserve native species. Another mess in my view.
It seems to me that the Australian authorities are in conflict about almost anything concerning animal welfare and conservation.
P.S. Animal welfare laws in Australia are on a state-by-state basis. There is no overarching federal law in this regard.
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Attitude of Australian state governments towards feral cats indirectly promotes cat cruelty as evidenced in Perth