Problems with wildlife
Sometimes the interaction between humans and wildlife is not an easy one. Where wildlife and human activity conflict, we need thoughtful management to avoid human safety being put at risk, damage to property or livelihood, or to prevent the future suffering of wildlife.
We must balance the needs of people and the protection of wildlife together fairly. In many cases this means people or organisations may adapt their practices to allow both animals and human activity to carry on. Other times, the wildlife must be managed or their movement controlled.
How do I manage wildlife problems?
As a first step, it is important to accurately identify the wildlife causing the problem to help you choose a management approach that will be effective for that species. Animal identification books can be helpful. Your local DELWP Wildlife Officer may also be able to assist you through their knowledge of the area and the species present.
You should also carefully assess the problem or damage to establish the best management method. Sometimes it's a matter of preventing access rather than direct intervention.
It is important to consider the underlying causes of the wildlife problem. If these are not addressed other management approaches may only work in the short-term. Underlying causes may include:
- your crops being located near an established roosting site,
- plants that attract wildlife may be in your garden, or
- particular building materials on your house may be attracting wildlife.
Often it is not a single method, but a combination of methods that is most effective. To effectively resolve a problem it is often necessary to plan ahead, and be persistent.
Wildlife management methods
Native wildlife in Victoria, including all birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975. It is illegal to disturb or to destroy protected wildlife without approval. The most common form of approval is an Authority to Control Wildlife (ATCW).
If you are a landholder or land manager experiencing a problem with wildlife on your property, you may apply to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) for an ATCW to scare, disperse, trap or destroy wildlife, if the wildlife is:
- damaging buildings, pasture, crops or other property
- posing a risk to human health and safety, or
- impacting on biodiversity.
Prior to applying for an ATCW, landholders and land managers are strongly recommended to investigate management approaches that do not require an ATCW, including:
- Exclusion techniques (e.g. fencing or netting)
- Techniques to modify the animal's behaviour (e.g. habitat modification)
- Modifying agricultural practices (e.g. avoiding aerial seeding)
For further information on management approaches that do not require an ATCW, please contact your local DELWP office.
The following fact sheets contain information on some of the wildlife management methods available for common wildlife species:
Guidelines for ATCW applications
If you require an ATCW, you must complete and sign an ATCW application form and submit it to the 'ATCW co-ordinator' at your nearest DELWP office in the DELWP region in which the property is located.
You can download an ATCW Application Form here.
The ATCW application form includes a 'Guide to applying for an Authority to Control Wildlife' on the last two pages. Applicants must carefully read this information prior to submitting an application.
Some information applicants are required to provide on the application form include:
- location of the property where the wildlife problem is occurring, including the crown allotment number
- the species and number of wildlife (based on a count or your best estimate) that is causing the problem
- the type and extent of the damage caused by the wildlife
- the actions you have attempted to manage the wildlife problem that do not require an ATCW
- your proposed control method (e.g. scaring, shooting, trapping and shooting, trapping and release, destroying eggs and nests)
Assessment of ATCW applications
ATCW applications are assessed by DELWP Wildlife Officers who have knowledge of the common wildlife problems and the environmental context of their local area. The DELWP officer may inspect your property to confirm the damage being caused by the wildlife.
Please note, applications may take four to six weeks to be assessed. Incomplete applications will not be assessed and will be returned to the applicant.
In general, Victorian wildlife populations fluctuate between year to year in response to changes in vegetation and climatic conditions. If you have been issued an ATCW in the past, please do not assume that your application for a similar activity will be automatically issued. Each application is individually assessed against many factors including the current local and broader environmental context.
ATCW applications for lethal control
Lethal control of wildlife should only be considered when all practical non-lethal methods have been investigated and were proven to be ineffective or impractical in managing the wildlife problem.
DELWP will only assess applications for lethal control methods when the applicant demonstrates on the ATCW application form that non-lethal management methods have been attempted to manage the wildlife problem.
If you would like further information on ATCW applications, please contact the ATCW co-ordinator at your local DELWP office.
How many authorities are issued?
The number of ATCWs issued in Victoria varies each year, largely due to environmental conditions, for instance, rainfall increases plant growth resulting in more food available for wildlife.
You can download summaries of the past ATCWs issued by the department:
Please note: these summaries are for all ATCWs issued, including those for non-lethal (e.g. scare or disperse) and lethal (destroy) control methods.
Relocation of wildlife
While the relocation of wildlife is often suggested as an alternative to destruction, this approach is rarely able to be applied.
Limits on the availability of food and shelter often determine the number of individuals of a particular species which an area can support. Release of an animal into an area already fully occupied will likely mean that the relocated animal will either not be able to find shelter or food, or be stressed by aggressive interactions with its own species over territory.
Relocation also poses risks to the populations an individual is being added to, for instance, the new individual may carry diseases such as chlamydia in koalas or herpesvirus in kangaroos.
For these reasons relocation of wildlife requires approval under the Wildlife Act 1975. In assessing relocation proposals, DELWP will consider the likely impact on the welfare of individual animals and the population an individual came from and is added to, and whether these impacts can be managed.