Animal Welfare Amendment Bill - NZCA submission
IntroductionSubmitted 4 October 2013: View the NZCA's submission on the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill.
Submission date: 4 October 2013
Submitted to: Primary Production Select Committee
The Authority’s interest in the Bill
1. The New Zealand Conservation Authority’s interest in the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill is confined to animals in the wild. This interest traverses indigenous animals and introduced animal pests and their control, including animals in the wild upon which a recreational activity is based. The Authority has statutory functions relating to these interests under the Conservation Act and the National Parks Act. Specifically, unless the Authority determines otherwise, introduced animals in national parks should be exterminated and native plants and animals should be preserved. The Authority advises the Minister and the Department of Conservation on conservation matters it considers are of national importance. In addition the Authority approves conservation management strategies, statements of general policy for national parks, and national park management plans. Public conservation lands and resources are managed by the Department in accordance with the provisions of these strategies, policies and plans.
The New Zealand Conservation Authority supports the Bill
2. The New Zealand Conservation Authority supports the Bill’s intention to increase enforceability, clarity, and transparency of New Zealand’s animal welfare system provided there are no changes in wording, or unintended consequences, that would result in limiting generally-accepted hunting, fishing, native species management, and pest management activities.
3. In particular, the New Zealand Conservation Authority supports there being no change to the current principle that the Animal Welfare Act 1999 does not apply in relation to:
- the proper use of toxins (section 181 Animal Welfare Act 1999)
- binding the Crown to obligations or liability by virtue of ownership under the Wild Animal Control Act 1977, Wildlife Act 1953, or under any other Act where the Crown is the owner of an animal in a wild state (section 8 Animal Welfare Act 1999)
4. The clauses of the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill that the New Zealand Conservation Authority specifically supports are:
- Clause 4(2) – insertion of “explosive” with the exclusion of firearms from the definition of explosive.
- Clause 5(2) – excluding animals in a wild state from section 3(1A).
- Clause 17 – new 30A(3) and (4) which excludes generally accepted hunting or killing practices, and management under other Acts.
- Clause 17 – new 30B, retaining the clause specifying that nothing in the Act makes it unlawful to hunt or kill animals in a wild state.
- Clause 17 – new 30D, captured animals.
- Clause 56 – specifically the Authority supports the principle that new section 183A (providing for making regulations) does not apply to activities dealt with in sections 30A to 30E.
Animal pests require management
5. The Authority supports the approaches listed in paragraph 4 because without them, normal and generally accepted recreational, commercial and customary hunting and fishing practices and pest control could be significantly affected. Likewise, the Department of Conservation’s (and others’) ability to carry out its responsibilities to manage native species could potentially be affected, due to the very broad definition of “hunting or killing” in the Animal Welfare Act 1999.
6. Animal pests are controlled because of the damage they do. Consequences of pests include the extinction or near extinction of native plants and animals (e.g. kakapo by stoats and kokako by rats), degraded forest canopy and soil run-off (e.g. by possums), loss of taonga species and New Zealand identity (e.g. kiwi by ferrets and dogs). Economic and social benefits from healthy ecosystems such as clean water, carbon sequestration, and tourism, which are all based on these attributes are also adversely impacted. Economist, Geoff Bertram, quantified the cost of pests to the New Zealand economy as around 1% of GDP per year, plus intangibles, in his 1999 paper The impact of introduced pests on the New Zealand Economy, which was commissioned by the Authority.
7. Since the passage of the Animal Welfare Act in 1999, the Department of Conservation, from its own research and using its own resources, and also working with others (e.g. Landcare Research, inventors and the Animal Health Board) has made successive improvements in the field of animal pest control to avoid causing unreasonable or unnecessary pain and suffering of pests and non-target species. Constant improvement in practices and technologies is “business as usual” for the Department.
8. The New Zealand Conservation Authority does not wish to be heard in support of its submission.