Decision Maker Response

Steven Miles’s response

Aug 18, 2016 — Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles has stopped a controversial plan to deploy wild dogs to kill goats on a North Queensland island to protect the threatened Beach stone-curlew.

Dr Miles today made an Interim Conservation Order under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 requiring Hinchinbrook Shire Council to immediately cease the use of dingoes to eradicate feral goats on Pelorus Island.

“I was shocked to learn of this cruel experiment but even more alarming is the lack of thought for the native animals on the island.

“Pest control should always be carried out in the most humane way possible – not by death row dingoes.

“As of today no dogs can be released on to Pelorus Island and any wild dogs already on the island must be removed within the next 14 days,” Dr Miles said.

“I do not take this action lightly but on the advice of experts from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection it’s clear that this misconceived program needs to stop before irrevocable harm is done to the island’s population of Beach stone-curlews.

“While the control of feral goats and other pests is a responsibility of all landholders, the methods employed should not pose a risk to threatened native wildlife species.”

Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Leanne Donaldson said the program was ‘inhumane’.

“I fully support the action Minister Miles is taking today,” Ms Donaldson said.

“It was very frustrating for me to learn that under current legislation I had no power to intervene.

“As soon as I heard the detail of the council’s plan I sought urgent advice on whether I could step in on the grounds that it is a cruel and inhumane solution.

“At the inaugural meeting of the Animal Welfare Advisory Board I asked members to consider whether such practices are in line with current community expectations on animal welfare.

“There has to be a more humane way to deal with a feral pest problem.”

RSPCA Queensland CEO Mark Townend said the RSPCA also supported the decision.

“We at the RSPCA had a number of concerns regarding the decision to put dingoes on the island in the first place,” Mr Townend said.

“We felt there were significant animal welfare issues not just for the goats but for smaller, native animals on the island and the dingoes themselves.”

Dr Miles said there were estimated to be only around 5000 Beach stone-curlews left across Australia.

“The Beach stone-curlew is listed as Vulnerable in Queensland, Critically Endangered in New South Wales and Near Threatened on the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species,” Dr Miles said.

“It is believed to be in decline across most of its range due to human disturbance and predation by cats, pigs and dogs.

“I will not stand by while one of the main predators of this vulnerable bird is deliberately released into its habitat.”

Interim Conservation Orders are designed for use where there is a likelihood of a significant detrimental impact on threatened wildlife.

Earlier this year Dr Miles took similar action when an Interim Conservation Order was issued in relation to the recently rediscovered night parrot.