Human-wildlife interaction guidelines in Western Australia
Hughes, M. and Carlsen, J. (2006) Human-wildlife interaction guidelines in Western Australia. In: 2nd National Wildlife Tourism Conference, 13 - 15 August, Fremantle, Western Australia
In October 2003, the Western Australian Minister for the Environment announced a review of the Department of Conservation and Land Management human-wildlife interaction guidelines. This was intended to clarify CALM policy in terms of how tour operators and the public may interact with wildlife in a way that allows enjoyment of the experience without negatively affecting the animals and endangering people. A Wildlife Interaction Review Panel (WIRP) was formed to take public submissions and provide recommendations regarding existing human-wildlife interaction guide lines. Several key issues influencing the clarity and application of the guidelines were identified. Firstly, effectively managing interactions between humans and wildlife depend on: the specific context, location and the type of interaction; the number of people and wildlife individuals involved etcetera. The biological, ecological and behavioural characteristics of particular species may also determine resulting impacts. This presents a challenge in formulating consistent guidelines for all of Western Australia. Secondly, current wildlife interaction related legislation is based on the concept of ‘taking’ reflecting an outdated and negative approach to interaction, and technically allowing molestation of wildlife. Developing a positive legislative ‘power head’ that allows human-wildlife interaction at the discretion of CALM would be a more appropriate contemporary platform for management. Finally, while some guidelines and controls are in place for licensed tour operators, the issue of interaction between wildlife and the public presents difficulties owing to policing ability and lack of public awareness. The WIRP presented ten recommendations for guidelines to better manage and monitor the impacts of human-wildlife interactions.
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