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Secret native animal deaths revealed

THE Environment Department is allowing around 50,000 native animals including rare and vulnerable species to be killed each year, prompting calls for a review of its permit system.
The previously secret death toll of animals such as kangaroos, wombats, wallabies, emus, ducks and cockatoos can be revealed for the first time because of a Freedom of Information application by Greens MLC Mark Parnell.

The most common animals to be killed over the past two years can occur in plague proportions, such as the Western Grey Kangaroo - with 35,001 killed - and the Tammar Wallaby with 17,575.
But conservationists have questioned why 12,181 animals listed as "rare" by the State Government and two listed as "vulnerable" have been killed.

The third most commonly killed animal, at 10,446 over two years, is the brushtail possum, which is listed as rare because of its habitat destruction. Other rare species to be killed were the Cape Barren goose, 385, the eastern grey kangaroo, 1320, and the little egret, 30.

Acting Greens spokeswoman Tammy Franks said the death toll of over 100,000 in just two years was an "outrage" and called for relocation to be the first option.

"The secrecy and lack of transparency makes this outrage all the worse," she said.

"We call for a review of the government policy to make sure culling permits are used only as a last resort when scientifically warranted and using the most humane option. They should only be issued when all non-lethal options have been tried and have failed."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources said the permit system was designed to control the destruction of native animals that were causing damage to the environment or property.

Although there had been an increase in the animals killed from 44,778 in 2010-11 to 56,499 in 2011-12 the spokeswoman said numbers fluctuated according to rainfall and other conditions.

Nature Conservation Society of SA conservation programs manager Stuart Collard said the number of animals killed and the rarity of some of the species was surprising.

"We advocate for science-based decision making and we can see the merit in control of overabundant species for conservation reasons, but looking at that list many of these animals don't fall into that category," he said.

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WildLife_Rules!: Secret native animal deaths revealed
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