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Managing acceptable pest animal control

20 August 2019

Sustainable grazing in Australia's southern rangeland regions is about more than managing sheep, cattle and goats. Producers are also dealing with the grazing pressure from kangaroos, unmanaged goats and feral pigs.

Control practices used to manage these species must be socially acceptable if the red meat industry is to maintain its social licence.

The concept of a ‘Social license to operate’challenges the red meat industry to meet community expectations about its practices to gain social acceptance and public trust. Without an improved understanding of social acceptability, it is unlikely the extensive livestock industry can develop and implement effective strategies to engage key stakeholders and the wider public about total grazing pressure (TGP) management.

MLA recently funded a project called  B.TGP.1701: Social acceptability of pest animal management in meeting TGP targets, which assessed the social acceptability by key stakeholders of control measures in the southern rangelands.

The key findings and their implications for the red meat industry can be found here in detail. In summary:

  • The industry needs to;
    • be aware of the concerns raised by the stakeholders, and be able to justify its control practices where possible
    • ensure that the code of practice (non-commercial shooting) is promoted, accepted, and adhered to
    • acknowledge that the acceptability of control practices for each focus species depends on how they are valued or perceived by individual stakeholders
    • initiate dialogue with animal advocacy/protection organisations
    • demonstrate producers and land holders can be trusted ‘to do the right thing’
    • use the opportunity to influence public opinion in favour of the commercial kangaroo industry
    • accept that people are not consistent in their views about the treatment of animals
    • acknowledge it involves managing the expectations of well-resourced animal welfare/protection organisations
    • be vigilant in scanning for emerging animal welfare issues, nationally and internationally and be prepared to respond to increased political scrutiny and specific incidents
  • The high credibility of producers is a  positive on which the industry can capitalise.
  • It is important for the industry to acknowledge the potential of kangaroo protection organisations to influence consumers, particularly internationally.

Recommendations for effective engagement with stakeholders include:

  • establishing appropriate processes to initiate a positive dialogue with influential animal welfare organisations);
  • establishing a unified and resourced industry 'voice' (e.g. appointing a respected producer spokesperson); and
  • ensuring the industry self-regulates to avoid the potential for 'bad behaviour' to undermine its credibility and trustworthiness (e.g. complying with codes of practice).