NILLUMBIK Council is considering a report to cease providing a wildlife euthanising service across the Shire.
The service attends to the euthanasia of injured wildlife and domestic animals on both public and private land, in accordance with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1968.
Wherever possible, qualified and accredited officers are obliged to minimise the suffering of injured animals where a recovery from injuries is unlikely.
The service also seeks to minimise the chance of injured wildlife creating a hazard on public roads.
The service is provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Currently, two licensed Rangers attend to incidents within business hours and a contractor delivers the service outside of business hours.
In May 2018, Council engaged Maddocks Lawyers and PPB Advisory (now part of PWC) to undertake an independent audit and review of its past, present and future management of its wildlife euthanising service and related management of firearms.
The audit report was presented to Council’s Audit Committee on August 13, 2018, due to the Committee’s risk management advisory role and expertise.
At its meeting, the Audit Committee decided that the Council should consider making alternative arrangements to deliver these services in the future.
Since then, officers have continued to seek alternatives for the provision of this service, and have commenced engaging with key stakeholders such as the Victoria Police and Wildlife Victoria in preparation for Council exiting this service.
In a report considered at the Council’s February Future Nillumbik Committee meeting, Councillors were briefed on a report which addressed the costs of providing this service, and the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) risks associated with the management and use of firearms in the day to day duties of Community Safety Officers (i.e. Rangers).
The report recommended that Council “support officers in engaging key stakeholders to develop an orderly exit from this service”.
The report went on to recommend:
- Immediately cease providing the injured wildlife euthanisation service on private property and only focus on risks within the public realm.
- Direct officers to continue an engage with Victoria Police, Wildlife Victoria and other stakeholder organisations in formulating an exit of this service.
- Direct officers to negotiate a support package for Wildlife Victoria for a period of three years to ensure that they continue to be adequately funded within Nillumbik to provide this service as they do across the rest of Victoria.
- Endorse a planned exit from the injured wildlife euthanisation service in its entirety by no later than June 30, 2019.
Council also heard that the financial benefit of exiting this service will be a direct cost saving of $56,000 annually as well as freeing up the time of Rangers to attend to other duties.
The report noted that the trend amongst other councils has been to pull out of this service, with all councils surveyed having stopped using firearms, while two have moved to using bolt guns.
“The remaining councils either ceased providing the service, or had never provided the service.
“Concerns relating to the overall risk of handling of firearms; whether councils really should be in the business of handling firearms; and points of decreasing demand, or access to other agencies (such as the police) being better suited to providing the service were all points put forward by these councils”, the report stated.
The Committee took the recommendations on advisement and has commissioned a period of public consultation and a further report to be considered at their May meeting.