Critical legislative reforms needed to address the wildlife crisis caused by tree clearing

Dr Martin Taylor (view profile)

There is a major blind spot in our animal protection laws in regard to cruelty and neglect of wildlife. The neglect, suffering and death of live export sheep garner national headlines and galvanise widespread outrage, as they should, although surely it was not the intent of those responsible to cause it.

Indeed a common argument you hear is that it’s in their business interests to care for animals well, so we shouldn’t be concerned by a few “aberrations”. Instances of intentional cruelty to wild animals or even just the suggestion of it, such as the koala cadaver nailed to a post, also stir outrage, perhaps to some extent because we are fearful that such people may also be dangerous for the human animal. But most suffering and death that humans cause wild animals is not directed at the animals necessarily, and is largely invisible, and because of that it happens on a vast scale and goes largely unchallenged.

Where it has been mitigated, if at all, such as the use of spotter-catchers during clearing for development, it’s largely based on species conservation, not animal welfare grounds. In this talk I make the case for wild animal suffering and death to be the next big animal welfare challenge we as a society need to deal with. We look at the vast scale at which it occurs and regulatory or other mechanisms to mitigate the harm being done.