Curtin Uni research finds WA land clearing laws ignore impact on animals

Land clearing regulations in WA fail to consider the harm  caused to animals such as possums, according to a new review.
Land clearing regulations in WA fail to consider the harm caused to animals such as possums, according to a new review.

LAND clearing laws in WA fail to take into account the harm caused to animals, a new review has found.

The paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Wildlife Research was led by Curtin University researcher Hugh Finn.

Dr Finn said the review found animal welfare was either ignored or considered indirectly by decision-makers in assessing if land clearing should be allowed.

“The clear scientific consensus is that most, and sometimes all, animals at a site will die as a consequence of that vegetation being removed, either immediately or in a period of days to months afterwards,” he said.

“A decision to clear native vegetation or to allow it to be cleared is also a decision to kill most or all of the animals inhabiting that vegetation.”

Dr Finn said while a person who cleared land may not want animals to suffer, suffering was the inevitable consequence of the decision to clear land.

“The relevant question for decision-makers is not if death or injury will occur when land is cleared, but how much of that harm will occur, how severe it will be, and whether it ought to be avoided,” he said.

“If such harm is nonetheless deemed necessary, then the question is how that harm could be minimised.”

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