Farmers and graziers say the latest release of data for animal cull quotas is evidence of the increasing populations of wallabies and possums in Tasmania, causing headaches for landholders attempting to protect crops and pasture.
But the Tasmanian Greens say the figures demonstrate the sheer number of native animals being culled each year, including quotas issued for wombats, currawongs and several unspecified protected species at airports.
The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment released the data last week which included the number of animals culled, as reported by 15 per cent of permit holders required to submit returns.
The reported cull figures from August 1, 2019 to September 17, 2020 included 7878 Bennetts wallabies, pademelons and brushtail possums, with more than 7000 culled using 1080 poison. These species are considered problems for graziers due to them competing with livestock for pasture.
Almost 5000 forester kangaroos were culled in the same period, along with 1937 silver gulls mostly through nest destruction, 721 Cape Barren geese and 162 sulphur crested cockatoos.
Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association chief executive officer Peter Skillern said it was unsurprising to see how many farmers were receiving permits for wallabies, possums and kangaroos.
"It takes five pademelons to eat as much pasture as one sheep. So if you have 300 wallabies in your paddock, it's going to have a big impact," he said.
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"The recent deer survey came back with some interesting results, one of those was the sheer number of wallabies that are out there. Their numbers are escalating. They breed relative to the season, and it's been a good season, so these numbers will likely keep growing.
"Most of these species live on public land and then migrate onto farms. Unless the taxpayer can stump up the money needed for fencing by offering subsidies to farmers, then there has to be a management plan in place."
Mr Skillern said the permit system had to strike the right balance between protecting crops and pasture, and ensuring responsible species management - a balance he believed DPIPWE was adhering to.
"Getting a permit is not a fait accompli. The department vets these people closely, it's far more than just filling out a form," he said.
The data was released following a Right to Information request made by the Tasmanian Greens.
It shows an expected increase in culls of black swans, varieties of duck and native hens, and Cape Barren geese. The vast majority of geese cull permits were issued on Flinders Island.
Over the 13-month period, 325 animals considered protected species were culled for airport safety measures, either through shooting or the destruction of nests.
Greens environment spokesperson Rosalie Woodruff said the overall cull figures were likely far lower than the reality, given that only 15 per cent of permit holders are required to report their takings.
"If all landholders with a permit to kill were required to report annually, the true number of kangaroos, wallabies and possums killed last year is likely far more than 80,000," she said.
"Despite the devastation of sarcoptic mange that continues to decimate the Tasmanian wombat population, wombat carers will be shocked to hear that permits to kill these wild animals continue to be issued.
"It beggars belief that permits are handed out for the next 5 years to kill wildlife, when DPIPWE undertakes no credible population monitoring of any of these animals. It's a recipe for a wildlife crash in Tasmania."
For wombats, three cull permits were issued in the North-East, and one each in the Central Highlands and South-East, totalling a quota of 51 animals.
A DPIPWE spokesperson said the department required all permit holders to report the number of animals taken as a condition of the permit.
"This reporting must take place upon the expiry of a permit or when requested by DPIPWE," the spokesperson said.
"In order to get an estimation of annual take from five year permits, a 15 percent sample of permit holders is asked to annually submit take returns. There can therefore be a time lag between the issue of a permit and reporting take from the use of that permit.
"No new permits are issued to applicants who have any outstanding take returns."