Approval for the culling of more than 22,000 native black swans has been granted in Tasmania since 2014, with almost half of that quota coming from King Island alone, new data released under right to information laws has revealed.
The crop protection permit details come after outcry at images of injured birds, which are protected in the state, brandished in parliament last month by Greens environment spokesperson Rosalie Woodruff.
Issued by the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, the permits are granted to landowners on application to manage the population of species that are causing damage to pasture and crops.
The total quota attached to these permits have authorised the culling of 20,000 animals across the state so far this year. From 2014, total quota numbers include 5000 wombats, 10,000 native hens, 50,000 forester kangaroos and 55,000 sulphur-crested cockatoos.
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Almost 73 per cent of the 12,000 permits were for the culling of brush tail possums, bennett's wallabies and Tasmanian pademelons - which feature no quota allocations.
Ms Woodruff said the latest data was an indication of the government's "dismissive attitude" to native animal protection - the true scale of which would never be known.
"Possibly most appalling of all, a 'quota' of six platypus were signed-off to be legally killed in this period."
A DPIPWE spokesperson said applications for the permits factor in the damage being caused, the abundance of the wildlife for which the permit is being sought, and the protected status of the species at a local, regional and state level.
"All of this information is used to determine whether a permit is granted, the maximum numbers able to be taken under the permit, the period of the permit and the method to be used to take the wildlife," they said.
"Culling can only be carried out on the property the permit applies to."
They added that the department uses a range of mechanisms to inform sustainable management including annual monitoring and the setting of quotas and setting maximum numbers on permits.
Click on the dots in the map below for a breakdown of 2019 crop protection permit quotas by region as of August.
Ralph Cooper of BirdLife Tasmania said information about the monitoring of species, like the black swan, needed to be more openly available - with many potentially coming from the mainland due to drought conditions.
"We can't present evidence of that happening but we do have proxies," he said. "We've got enormous numbers of water fowl being driven across by the drought."
Mr Cooper said the swans can definitely be a problem, with the birds often drawn to the protein-rich grasses sown by cattle farmers. But he said culling was "completely indiscriminate".
He added that other methods to move the birds on, such as the use of drones, could also be investigated.
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