Your emails are already generating change ahead of the NSW state election

Feral Herald |

With the NSW election just weeks away, where do the major parties stand on ensuring funding and policies to manage feral horses, deer, weeds, cats and other invasive species are top priorities for NSW? We’ll keep working until the last moment, but here are highlights from our work on the ground as of 8 March.

  1. As we meet with scores of NSW MPs and candidates, engaging them on invasive species and urging them to take on critical actions detailed in our invasive species policy document, hundreds of supporters have been sending in personal, heart-felt messages and emails to NSW election candidates in almost every electorate.

    MPs have been responding and we are seeing growing support for our priorities. You can send your own email here.

    The NSW Greens have said that they support all of our election policy recommendations. Take a look at their letter to us outlining their position.

    NSW Labor and the Coalition have assured us they will provide detailed responses soon and we will let you know what they say.

    Wagga Wagga independent MP Dr Joe McGirr announced the removal of feral horses from Kosciuszko National Park and the repeal of the Bill to protect feral horses, as well as feral pig and feral deer coordinators, will be priorities for him if elected and will influence his support if he has a say in which major party holds power after March. You can see coverage of this in the Sydney Morning Herald and on the ABC.

    Our work raising the profile of this issue has seen the Premier, the Deputy Premier, the Labor Opposition Leader, the Environment and shadow Environment Ministers, and multiple Liberal and National candidates all asked by the media for their position on feral horses.  In all cases they have confirmed that getting the numbers down is a priority. The issue was also a hot topic at the recent Environment Leaders Debate hosted by the Nature Conservation Council. You can watch what each party had to say here. 
  2. The alarming news that feral horse numbers in Kosciuszko National Park have jumped by over 30% in just two years to almost 19,000 caused a media frenzy last month. This catapulted the issue into the spotlight, including a front-page story in the Sydney Morning Herald’s News Review with an excellent article about the ‘feral invasion’ threatening our national parks and the need for all parties to commit to greater funding and action for invasive species.  

    You can read our media release on the jump in numbers and coverage in the ABC, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph and The Land.

  3. Did you know that New South Wales and Western Australia actually prevent local councils from introducing sensible pet containment policies to protect wildlife? We are seeking to change this law in NSW and, in the lead up to the election, we have teamed up with WIRES, Birdlife Australia, the Nature Conservation Council and the Australian Wildlife Society to advocate for this.  
  4. ACT Senator David Pocock has successfully launched a federal Senate inquiry into the issue of feral horses in the Australian Alps.  You can read the Terms of Reference here. For our take on the inquiry, read our media release or check out the resulting media coverage on The Project, in the Sydney Morning Herald and the ABC.

  5. Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has backed this Senate inquiry and told the ABC:
    “I love horses but they don’t belong in Kosciuszko National Park.  Feral horses … are damaging fragile alpine and subalpine ecosystems and important plant and animal species, such as the iconic corroboree frog. I welcome this inquiry to ensure that we are doing everything we can to effectively manage this precious ecosystem from the impacts of feral animals, such as feral horses.”

    The inquiry will be conducted by the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications and is due to report by 9 June 2023 with submissions open until 11 April. The terms of reference include investigation of relevant Commonwealth powers and responsibilities, best practice approaches to reduce the populations of feral horses and the adequacy of state and territory laws, policies, programs and funding. The focus is deliberately not on the impacts, but what is needed to actually reduce the population.  

    We are seeking detailed submissions from the community and experts and will be in touch soon with ways you can assist.
  6. We wrote to Minister Plibersek seeking her intervention on the feral horse issue and inviting her to visit Kosciuszko National Park. We are awaiting a response. We outlined four ways that she could take action:
  • Develop regulations under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act requiring states and territories to effectively manage feral horses (and other invasive species) in the Australian Alps under national heritage management principles.
  • Develop a national feral horse threat abatement plan
  • Invest in feral horse management in the Australian Alps, a priority place under the national Threatened Species Action Plan.
  • Address any barriers to federal intervention through the EPBC Act reforms. 

Take action

Since launching our election writing kit, MPs have let us know they are receiving your emails. This is translating into political support for our priorities. This shows how successful a genuine email can be in catching the attention of candidates. 

If you live in NSW and haven’t emailed your candidates, please get your writing kit today. After submitting the form you will receive an email that contains the email addresses of candidates for your local NSW electorate and details of exactly how to send them a message.

With your help we can keep up the momentum and ensure invasive species are a top priority at the NSW election on 25 March. 

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Help protect NSW!

Our expert team has written a list of policy asks detailing exactly what the next NSW government needs to do to stamp out some of the worst invasive species impacts across the state. But they will only become a reality if every key political candidate at the 2023 NSW state election hears about it from you!

Dear National Deer Management Coordinator,

Please accept this as a submission to the National Feral Deer Action Plan.

[Your personalised message will appear here] 

I am very concerned about the spread of deer and am pleased that a national plan has finally been developed. Without urgent action, funding and commitment from all levels of government it is clear that feral deer will continue to spread and damage our environment.

The feral deer population in Australia is growing rapidly and spreading across the country, damaging our natural environment, causing havoc for farmers and foresters and threatening public safety. Unlike much of the world where deer are native, our plants and wildlife haven’t evolved to deal with these heavy hard hooved animals with a voracious appetite.
With no natural predators and an ability to adapt to almost all environments, they could occupy almost all of Australia unless stopped. Despite this, state and territory governments have been slow to respond and in Victoria and Tasmania they are still protected by law for the enjoyment of hunters.

This plan should be adopted by all governments but must also be underpinned by dedicated funding and clear responsibilities. A plan without funding or accountability is a plan that will fail and Australia cannot afford for this to fail.

In order to prevent the spread of feral deer and reduce their impact on our native wildlife, ecosystems and agriculture, I ask that the following recommendations be adopted for the final National Feral Deer Action Plan:

1. All federal, state and territory governments should adopt the National Feral Deer Action Plan and declare feral deer to be a priority pest animal species.

2. All federal, state and territory governments should commit to:

  • Contain deer to the existing large population areas.
  • Reduce and eradicate smaller and isolated populations.
  • Protect important environmental assets such as world and national heritage areas.
  • Develop and fund regional plans and strategies to manage deer populations which involve land managers across all tenures.

3. In order to drive action and the success of this plan, there should be dedicated Commonwealth funding and support for:

  • A permanent national feral deer coordinator position.
  • A permanent federal feral deer action committee with representatives from the commonwealth and state and territory governments and the environmental and agricultural sectors.
  • An ongoing public education campaign on feral deer.
  • A network of regional feral deer coordinators to drive local action across tenures.

4. The expected outcomes for the plan need to be more ambitious, with clear interim targets including:

  • Within one year, all States and Territories should have in place arrangements to implement the National Feral Deer Action Plan, including allocating dedicated funding for implementation.
  • Within one year, feral deer management plans should be developed for key environmental assets of national significance, including the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, the Greater Blue Mountains, the Australian Alps, the Gondwana Rainforests and the Wet Tropics of Queensland.
  • Within five years coordinated landscape scale management should be in place where land owners, land managers, government and community are demonstrably working together.

5. A national feral deer containment map with three zones should be adopted. It should be more ambitious than the zone map in the current draft plan and there should be greater clarity in the naming of the zones. Improvements that should be adopted include:

  • Renaming the zones to better reflect the management intention to ‘Containment Zone 1’ (the current large population zone), ‘Containment Buffer Zone 2’ (the current buffer zone) and ‘Eradication and prevention Zone 3’ (the current small isolated population zone).
  • The NSW northern rivers area should be in the eradication and prevention zone as there are few feral deer currently in this region and eradicating isolated populations and preventing spread into this area is still possible.
  • The whole of South Australia should be in the eradication and prevention zone as eradication is the goal of the SA Government.
  • The Tasmanian region in the containment zone should be smaller to reflect greater ambition and potential for eradication of deer populations.
  • In eastern Victoria areas such as Wilson’s Promontory, Westernport islands and the Mornington Peninsula should be in the eradication and prevention zone.

6. There should be consistent laws and regulations across all states and territories that:

  • Recognise feral deer as a pest animal and treat them as such.
  • Establish a clear responsibility for all landholders and managers to be involved in feral deer control programs.
  • Set clear penalties to stop the wilful or negligent release of feral deer.
  • Prevent new deer farms in areas where no feral deer are present and phase out all deer farms in the eradication and prevention zone.
  • Enable enforcement of compliance, including on government land.

I support the follow principles being adopted in the final National Feral Deer Action Plan:

  • Feral deer are a pest and should be treated as such on all tenures, except on approved deer farms.
  • Federal, state and territory governments have a responsibility to fund the outcomes under this plan.
  • All land managers in areas where feral deer are present have a responsibility to be involved in feral deer control programs.
  • The focus of management efforts should be on eradication of isolated, satellite populations, protection of key environmental assets currently impacted and stopping the spread to new regions.
  • Feral deer control should be undertaken humanely, safely and professionally according to agreed protocols and all tools which meet this criteria should be adopted, including aerial control.
  • Funding for coordination, regional planning and community engagement is necessary for effective feral deer management.
  • Ongoing management and follow up control efforts are required to achieve long lasting results.
  • Rules and regulations should be consistent across jurisdictions and land tenures.
  • Recreational hunting is not an effective strategy for feral deer control and should not be relied upon.
[Your name]
[Your email address]
[Your suburb], [Your state]