Harvesting and culling of native fauna


Ratification Date: 01 Dec 2013


Both harvesting and culling of overabundant populations of native fauna are accepted subject to the use of rigorous population assessment methods and the use of humane techniques in accordance with current scientific knowledge, legislative frameworks and agreed management plans, and so as not to adversely affect threatened or endangered species1. The harvesting of non-abundant species is opposed and vigorous conservation of threatened and endangered species is supported.

[1] As listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/protect/species-communities.html) and various state/territory legislation.


Overabundant native fauna may have deleterious economic[1], ecological[2] or social impacts. Harvesting involves the taking of free-living native fauna for use on a commercial, community or personal basis. Harvesting should be distinguished from culling, which is a procedure used primarily to reduce the population numbers of a free-living species. Australian native fauna is a unique and valuable natural resource that can, at times, be used as a source of food and other products. Some native animal species are abundant offering opportunities for commercial harvesting. There are also legislative provisions[3] for the legal harvest of native fauna by Indigenous communities and individuals with a native title right.

Nonetheless, harvesting and culling of native fauna are controversial activities that require continuing scientific investigation, appropriate legislative oversight, community education, stakeholder consultation and up to date operator training.

[1] For example, over-abundant macropods grazing on pastoral land.

[2] For example, over-abundant macropods on native grasslands, or noisy miners negatively impacting bird species richness (see Clarke and Grey 2010).

[3] Under section 211 of the Native Title Act 1993.


The following guidelines should be observed for harvesting and culling of native fauna:

  1. Harvesting and culling programs for native animals must be based on current scientific data on population dynamics and habitat to ensure maintenance of viable ecosystems and population numbers (see Chee and Wintle (2010) for an approach). Where appropriate, efforts should be made to harvest meat and meat products from culled animals.
  2. Programs must be designed and regulated[1] in a way that will prevent unauthorised harvesting or culling of target species and have minimal effect on non-target species.
  3. To avoid adverse effects during live transport of trapped native animals, capture and transport techniques that cause minimal injury and avoid pain and stress must be used and be validated by appropriate studies.
  4. Killing methods must be rapid and humane, and carried out by trained, skilled operators.
  5. If it is suspected that an animal remains alive after the killing procedure, then every reasonable effort must be made to locate it immediately. The dependent young of killed adult female animals should be humanely destroyed without delay. Harvesting and culling activities should be carried out to avoid circumstances which require the consequential killing of dependent young animals.
  6. Where harvested animals are used for human consumption, adherence to relevant carcass processing, packaging, transport and storage and meat hygiene and inspection protocols is necessary[2] to ensure public health and product quality.
  7. Free-living fauna may harbour diseases transmissible to humans or other animals. Harvesting and culling protocols must be designed to prevent disease transmission.

[1] For example, for commercial harvesting, through obtaining a commercial wildlife harvesting licence, or similar, under state/territory legislation.

[2] For example, the Australian Standard for the Hygienic Production of Wild Game Meat for Human Consumption (AS4464:2007), the Australian Standard for the Hygienic Production and Transportation of Meat and Meat Products for Human Consumption (AS4696:2007) and state/territory meat hygiene legislation.

Other relevant policies and position statements

Date of ratification by AVA Board December 2013