The Native and Introduced Wildlife Working Group (NIWWG) considered aspects of the welfare of all land-based animals which are not captive or confined. These animals include native fauna and introduced species, and relevant considerations range from issues of management of threatened species to management of those which are overabundant or have pest status.
The membership of the group reflected this diversity of purpose. The NIWWG was established in 2012 as a result of the Gemmel Review into the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy. One of the findings of that Review was that while much had been achieved in the five years the Strategy had been in place, it was important that the membership of the working groups be rotated to ensure new ideas and fresh outlooks. Consequently, selection criteria were established and the membership and Chairs of the working groups were reviewed.
At its first face-to-face meeting in April 2012, the NIWWG considered the priorities established by the ‘Animals in the Wild’ Working Group which had preceded it, and from this exercise developed its own priorities for its term of operation. This assessment was used as the basis to determine projects which would be the focus of the Group. It was also agreed that identified gaps and emerging issues in the Group’s sector of responsibility would be an ongoing area of consideration and activity.
The NIWWG built on the work undertaken by the Animals in the Wild Working Group and sought to bring to fruition those projects which were in progress at the time of the restructure.
The NIWWG agreed that the following are emerging issues or gaps in the Australian animal welfare system:
- Declining resources and changing demographics resulting in the loss of experienced operators and thus an overall diminishment of skill in pest animal (and plant) management.
- Declining budgets resulting in potential pressures to adopt the cheapest option which achieves the result rather than the best or most humane option.
- An increasing gap between public perception and reality making public communication of wild animal issues difficult and emotive.
- Peri-urban animal ownership. This is an issue common to several working groups as it impacts on production animals, companion animals and wild animals. One Queensland Council (Western Plains) has developed a brochure for new residents outlining their obligations in deciding to live in a peri-urban area including responsible and humane animal ownership