The Animal Justice Party (AJP) objects to the use of vilifying imagery and language (‘feral’, ‘noxious’, ‘vermin’, ‘invasive’ and ‘pest’) that is used to develop a lack of empathy for introduced animals and encourages the belief that their welfare is subservient to the human economy, the environment and native wildlife.
The AJP acknowledges that terrestrial and aquatic animals introduced in Australia by humans over the past 250 years did not ask to be introduced and should not be punished merely for existing. Some introduced animals have had, and continue to have, deleterious environmental and economic impacts. This includes farmed sheep and cattle whose impacts on the environment are largely ignored.
The AJP recognises that there is no simple solution to controlling the impact of introduced species but believes that only non-lethal, humane, effective and species-specific methods are acceptable. Too many of the current methods used are cruel and also non-targeted, harming native animals and the local environment. Violence towards individuals is not a solution, yet the vilifying language used against introduced animals has the potential to incite violence against them.
- Recognise that humans are responsible for introducing non-native species to Australia and that these animals are just trying to survive in their new environment.
- Stop the use of vilifying language to refer to introduced species.
- Accept that the removal or depopulation of an introduced species, which may have been established for hundreds of years, is complex and difficult, if not impossible, and can have negative impacts on the local ecosystem, including native wildlife.
- Immediately ban the use of lethal control methods.
- Ensure that methods used to control introduced species or mitigate their damage are non-lethal, humane, effective and species-specific – for instance, deterrence (e.g. small scale, wildlife-friendly fencing of crops; repellents), fertility control, and prevention of further deliberate or accidental breeding, importation and releases.
- Invest in research for new humane fertility and biological population control methods.
- Promote responsible animal guardianship including keeping companion animals safe in their homes (e.g. in cat enclosures), and preventing abandonment and accidental breeding. This will prevent the animals from causing environmental damage and reduce the predation of native animals (see our Companion Animals Policy).
- Reduce the impact of introduced animals by rewilding and restoring ecosystems.