Undesirable animals - Wet Tropics Management Plan

Schedule 2 of the Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998 (the Plan) lists introduced plants and animals that are considered ‘undesirable’ in the Area because of their invasive potential and the environmental impacts they can cause. The Plan includes provisions to help minimise the potential impact of these species on the integrity of the Area. The current Plan lists 20 prohibited species or groups of species.

The Plan prohibits the bringing of undesirable animals into the World Heritage Area. However, it allows for undesirable animals to be kept on private land or land where Native Title exists, other than rainforest. Cattle grazing, other than in a rainforest, is also currently allowed in the Area. Undesirable animals include cats, dogs, cattle, deer, goats, pigs, cane toads, European honey bees, tilapia, and rabbits.

 

Proposed changes to the Plan

Schedule 2 updates

In the current Plan review process, the proposed list of animals in schedule 2 under the Plan will remain the same. However, the draft Amendment Plan also includes a provision to allow the Authority to update the schedule without the need to undertake the detailed statutory processes normally required for making an amendment to the Plan. This is so the Authority can readily update the list of undesirable animals without having to go through the long and complicated process of a Plan amendment.

 

Keeping undesirable animals on private land

The draft Amendment Plan also proposes to prohibit the keeping of undesirable animals on private land or land where Native Title exists, with the exception of cats, dogs and cattle. People will generally not be allowed to keep animals such as deer, pigs or goats any more. However, a person may apply to the Authority for a permit to continue to keep such animals on their land if they were keeping them before the Amendment Plan comes into force. Cats and dogs must be kept in a way that does not pose a threat to native wildlife. If a residence is in the rainforest, a cat or dog will be allowed as long as it is kept within the curtilage of the residence. A new provision is also included in the draft Amendment Plan which will allow for a permit to be issued for the use of working dogs in the Area for conservation or management purposes.

Note: A blind or deaf person may be accompanied by a guide dog into or on any public place.

 

Fish stocking

The stocking and translocation of large predatory native fish such as barramundi and sooty grunter has been undertaken throughout the Wet Tropics, often in upstream areas which have naturally remained free of such predators. This can significantly alter faunal communities and ecosystems in streams, and cause localised extinctions or declines in local fish populations (see Burrows 2004). For example, the introduction of several native fish species including mouth almighty and sooty grunter to Lake Eacham resulted in the local extinction of the endangered Lake Eacham rainbow fish, although small populations have now been found in neighbouring streams. Redclaw crayfish have also been extensively stocked and translocated in the Wet Tropics (outside of their natural range of the Gulf of Carpentaria and north eastern Cape York) with likely adverse consequences for native crustacean species and aquatic plants. Fish stocking in national parks is prohibited by section 86 of the Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 1994 which prevents a person taking a live animal into a protected area.

Fish stocking or fish translocations (i.e. taking a fish from one watercourse and releasing it into a watercourse in the Area) is not currently regulated under the Plan. The draft Amendment Plan requires a person to have a permit to translocate a fish or crustacean in the Area. Note that Tinaroo Dam is not within the Area so this amendment will not affect any future stocking in the dam. These changes are designed to prevent the introduction of predatory fish such as barramundi, sooty grunter, mangrove jack and crustaceans such as red claw, which have the potential to devastate populations of smaller native fish, frogs and invertebrates and alter ecosystem biodiversity of Wet Tropics streams.

 

Cattle grazing

Cattle grazing is an allowed activity within the Area outside of rainforest areas. While such grazing may have some benefits for management, cattle grazing is generally considered to be detrimental to World Heritage values. It can alter understorey vegetation, introduce weeds, cause erosion, change fire regimes and create feral cattle populations. The main impacts are in dry and wet sclerophyll forests. Cattle grazing will continue to be an allowed activity under the Plan other than in a rainforest. However, the Authority will endeavour to phase out grazing over time.

 

More information

You can find out more about the proposed amendments to the Plan on the Plan review page.

 

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