As we head into yet another bushfire season, the horrific Black Summer bushfires are front of mind for many people in New South Wales. Across Australia 18.6 million hectares burned and over three billion animals died in fires of an intensity and scale that had never before been seen in living memory. Yet despite the extreme devastation and loss of life, the New South Wales Government continued to hand out over 2,000 licences to harm over 180,000 native animals. Wombats, kookaburras, kangaroos, possums and emus are among the native animals the Government was sentencing to death during the previous bushfire season, allowing private landowners to claim up to 500 lives under a single licence.
These licences are easy to obtain by simply filling out a form online and having a phone conversation with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. Properties do not even have to be visited to verify claims. Under this weak and destructive system, hundreds of thousands of native animals are left to die at the whim of private landowners, despite much of their habitat having been burned to the ground. It is hard to think of a reason to justify this slaughter, especially given the critical work of wildlife carers who were fighting day and night to save as many victims of the bushfires as possible. Despite their best efforts to protect suffering animals from further harm, all their hard work was being undone by bullets fired with the support of the Government.
Actions like this make it hard to believe the Government's claims that it is supporting wildlife recovery and conservation after the Black Summer bushfires, especially when we now know the truth about the appalling death toll and that these licences are still being distributed. With temperatures once again beginning to soar, animals are facing threats from all sides during the long, hot summer ahead. I call on the Government to take action to protect animals and ensure these callous licences to harm native animals are not among them.