The South Australian Government has approved the culling of wombats on the Yorke Peninsula. (ABC News: Alice Roberts)
Wombats on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula will be culled after the Indigenous Lands Trust (ILT) received a permit to humanely destroy the animals.
- The South Australian Government approved the humane cull of wombats on the Yorke Peninsula
- An Aboriginal elder has expressed serious concerns, saying wombats should be “looked after”
- The cull follows the stoning death of one wombat and the shooting death of 12 others in 2019
The planned cull will take place near Point Pearce — on Aboriginal-owned farmland.
According to traditional owner and Adjahdura/Narungga and Ngadjuri elder Quenten Agius, the farmer who rents the land from the Aboriginal community is having his equipment broken when he runs over the animals.
The farmer was unavailable for comment and has engaged lawyers.
The South Australian Department for Environment and Water said it “regularly received” applications for “the destruction of wombats and other native animals”.
“The owner of Point Pearce, Aboriginal Lands Trust, applied for and received a permit for the humane destruction of wombats,” it said in a statement.
“A decision to approve a permit takes into account the species abundance, the nature of the impact caused by the species, human safety, and economic considerations.
“Strict codes of practice and animal welfare standards also apply.”
An abundance of southern hairy-nosed wombats is causing havoc for farmers on the Yorke Peninsula. (Supplied: Tina Janssen (file photo))
The planned cull follows the shooting death of 12 hairy-nosed wombats in 2019 on the Yorke Peninsula.
It also follows an incident on South Australia’s west coast in December last year, when an off-duty police officer stoned a wombat to death.
Part of traditional stories
Mr Agius, who is not a member of the Indigenous Lands Trust, has expressed serious concerns about the plan to cull up to 200 local wombats.
“I understand that the farmer has got an issue with the wombats but at the end of the day, these wombats have got to be looked after,” he said.
“They’re part of a storyline that travels way back; we talk about evolution and everything through these animals.”
Mr Agius said he was opposed to culling any wombats and believed exploring other options about managing the marsupials was a better option.
He also said there was a lack on consultation in the process of approving the cull.
“At the end of the day, this is money driven,” Mr Agius said.
“Machinery is getting destroyed, wombats are in the way, and less product that [the farmer] makes is less income for the Lands Trust.
“Wombats should be looked after. There’s a large population there, there’s a lot of farmland there.
“We could actually produce an area for the wombats to sustain life and to keep colonies connected.”
Permit went through proper process
State Liberal MP for the seat of Narungga, Fraser Ellis, said the planned cull was not a case of a farmer wantonly killing wombats.
The culling of southern hairy-nosed wombats is causing controversy between traditional owners, farmers, and governments. (ABC Open contributor Claire Marie)
“Local bodies there have passed democratic motions to resolve to get this permit to help control the number of wombats,” he said.
“In terms of it being portrayed as a farmer wanting to destroy a number of wombats on a whim, that’s not the case.
“My understanding is that the Point Pearce Aboriginal Council and the Aboriginal Lands Trust both support this permit and are worried about the viability of their paddock and their farm, which poses a direct threat to the Point Pearce community itself.”
Cull is ‘excessive’
Wildlife researcher with the University of Adelaide, Mike Swinbourne, said wombat populations on the Yorke Peninsula were some of the most fragmented in the country.
Traditional owners say the wombat holds significant importance in their culture. (Supplied: Peter Barnes/Trust for Nature (file photo))
“Most of the colonies on the Yorke Peninsula are very small and isolated from each other, so there are no real linkages,” he said.
“The only really sizable one is the one on the west coast, around Point Pearce.
“There are probably around 600 to 800 wombats on the entire Yorke Peninsula, so if you’re talking about culling 200, you’re talking about 30 per cent of the entire population, which is just excessive.”
Dr Swinbourne said there was “absolutely no justification” for killing so many of the creatures.
“If you were to cull that many wombats, you would decimate the population on the peninsula, and you could not justify that,” he said.
He said while he had “sympathy” for the impact wombats had on farming land, there needed to be a balance between managing animal populations and farming practices.
Point Pearce Community Council chairman Edward Newchurch declined to comment.
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