Key messages

  • Wildlife legislation is administered by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).
  • DELWP can issue Wildlife Controller Licences, which enable licence holders to remove, destroy or dispose of native animals.
  • Pest control licence (PCOs) holders need to apply for a Wildlife Controller Licence if they wish to control wildlife.
  • PCOs with the proper licence authorisation may remove certain established pest animal species for commercial or domestic purposes.

Pest control operators and wildlife control

A pest control operator (PCO) is defined in the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (PHW Act) as a person who carries on or holds themselves out in any way as carrying on the business of controlling, destroying or repelling pests.

Anyone who uses pesticides, or permits another person to use pesticides, in the course of the business of a pest control operator in Victoria is required to hold a pest control licence, issued by the department unless the pesticide is being used for any purposes specified under section 10 of the PHW Act. For further information please refer to ‘Pest control legislation’.

The department issues licences to individuals who have attained the appropriate qualification.

A pest control licence will list one or more authorisations depending on the type of pest control work the licence holder is qualified to undertake. The authorisations available are:

  • pesticides (excluding fumigants) formulated for the control of arthropods, rodents, birds and fungi, which are used to control pests (other than pest animals)
  • pesticides formulated for the control of pest animals and to protect an area or place in or around a building used for commercial or domestic purposes
  • pesticides in the form of fumigants.

If a PCO intends to undertake wildlife control (for example, possums), they must also hold a Wildlife Licence or an Authority to Control Wildlife (ACTW) issued by DELWP.

Pest control licence – pest animal authorisation

A person holding a pest control licence with an authorisation to use ‘pesticides formulated for the control of any pest animal’ may only control those animals defined as pest animals under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994. The Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 lists four categories of pest animal:

  • Prohibited pest animal
  • Controlled pest animal
  • Regulated pest animal
  • Established pest animal.

Pest animal species are classified as prohibited, controlled, regulated or established according to their potential to threaten agriculture, community health and the environment.

Under s. 20(1)(f) of the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, a landowner must take all reasonable steps to prevent the spread of and, as far as possible, eradicate established pest animals in relation to their land. This is a service that a PCO would be contracted to provide. In these cases, the PCO does not require authorisation from DELWP.

However, if a PCO intends to control an established pest animal using pesticides to protect an area or place in or around a building used for commercial or domestic purposes, the PCO will require a pest control licence with the appropriate authorisation.

Established pest animals in Victoria

The following mammals are considered established pest animals in Victoria:

  • Order: Carnivora
    • Vulpes vulpes (red fox)
    • Canis familiaris (feral dogs and dogs-run-wild)
    • Canis familiaris dingo (dingoes and their hybrids in the wild, except for recognised canine breeds such as the Australian Cattle Dog [Queensland Heeler] and the Australian Kelpie)
  • Order: Lagomorpha
    • Lepus europeus (European hare)
    • Oryctolagus cuniculus (European rabbit)
  • Order: Artiodactyla
    • Capra hircus (feral goats and goats-run-wild)
    • Sus scrofa (feral pigs and pigs-run-wild).

Wildlife Act 1975

The Wildlife Act 1975 and the Wildlife Regulations 2002, administered by DELWP, were established in order to protect wildlife throughout Victoria from extinction, while making provisions for regulated possession, trade and utilisation of wildlife for private and commercial purposes through licensing.

Wildlife – definition under the Wildlife Act 1975

‘Wildlife’, as defined under the Wildlife Act 1975, includes:

  • any animal of a vertebrate taxon that is indigenous to Australia
  • all kinds of deer, nonindigenous quail, pheasants, and partridges
  • any taxon of animal which the Governor in Council declares to be wildlife for the purposes of the Wildlife Act 1975
  • any taxon of terrestrial invertebrate animal that is listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988
  • any hybrids of a taxon of animal specified above
  • includes any such animal or any member of a taxon which is bred or kept in captivity or confinement.

The term ‘wildlife’ refers to wildlife in any form whether dead or alive, and includes any individual part of an animal.

All wildlife is protected under the Wildlife Act 1975. However, there are some circumstances in which wildlife may be declared to be unprotected.

Wildlife licences

Under Part VII of the Wildlife Act 1975, it is an offence to hunt, take, destroy, buy, sell, acquire, receive, dispose of, keep, possess, control, breed, process, display, swap, keep, trade, kill, release, take samples from or experiment on wildlife without prior written approval from the Secretary to DELWP. This is usually in the form of a Wildlife Licence or an Authority To Control Wildlife (ATCW).

DELWP may issue licences under s. 22(1) of the Wildlife Act 1975 in any of the 14 categories prescribed in the Wildlife Regulations 2002.Each category makes provisions for the lawful undertaking of different activities involving wildlife.

The category relevant to the pest control industry enabling the removal, destruction or disposal of native fauna is the Wildlife Controller category.

If you are participating in any other activities involving wildlife, such as production, display or taxidermy, please contact DELWP for licensing details.

Wildlife Controller Licence

There are two types of Commercial Wildlife (Wildlife Controller) Licences:

  • Controller Type 1: ‘…authorises the licence holder to take (those taxa of) wildlife (listed in Schedule 7 of the Wildlife Regulations 2002) from the wild and destroy, dispose of or sell that wildlife in accordance with the conditions of the licence for the purpose of removing danger to person or property from that wildlife’.
  • Controller Type 2: ‘…authorises the licence holder to take any reptiles listed in Schedule 7 from the wild and to dispose of or destroy those reptiles in accordance with the conditions of the licence for the purpose of removing danger to persons from reptiles’.

For information regarding the species listed in Schedule 7 of the Wildlife Regulations 2002, please contact DLWP.

Wildlife Controller Licence conditions

Wildlife Controller Licences are subject to a number of conditions, which specify:

  • the taxa that may be controlled
  • the methods that may be used
  • the transportation and release or disposal of captured wildlife.

In addition to these conditions, the licence holder must also:

  • allow inspection of the licensed premises, (other than a private dwelling, where a warrant is required), by an authorised officer
  • maintain complete, accurate, legible, records and submit returns (a summary of wildlife transactions) each year
  • only operate on lands with the consent of the landowner or land manager.

A Controller Type 1 may also control sulphur-crested cockatoos, galahs and long-billed corellas, provided that the licence is endorsed for birds. A numbered steel leg band (available upon payment of a small royalty fee) must also be attached to the leg of each bird before removing it from the trap site. It is an offence against the Wildlife Act 1975 to fail to comply with any of the conditions placed upon a Wildlife Licence, or ATCW, or to act outside the entitlements granted by the licence or ATCW. A Wildlife Licence or ATCW may be suspended or cancelled if the licence holder is found to be guilty of an offence against the Wildlife Act 1975 or has breached a condition of licence.

Wildlife Controller Licence application and fees

To obtain a Wildlife Controller Licence, an applicant must complete the appropriate form and return it to DELWP. Applicants are subject to an interview with an authorised officer, which may also involve an inspection of the proposed licensed premises.

If accepted, the applicant will be invoiced for payment of the prescribed fee.

Wildlife Controller Licence – Assistant’s Licence

It is an offence to allow another person to act under the authorisation of your Wildlife Licence. However, the Wildlife Regulations 2002 provide for an Assistant’s Licence, which authorises a person who is the employee of the holder of a Commercial Wildlife Licence to undertake any activity authorised by the Commercial Wildlife Licence held by the employer.

An Assistant’s Licence can be obtained for a fee and must be linked to a nominated and valid Commercial Wildlife Licence.

The holder of an Assistant’s Licence may only assist the holder of a Commercial Wildlife Licence to take wildlife from the wild (that is, control wildlife) while under the direct physical supervision of the Commercial Wildlife Licence holder. The licensed assistant cannot operate independently of the Commercial Wildlife Licence holder when controlling wildlife.

It should also be noted that if the licensed assistant commits an offence against the Wildlife Act 1975, the Wildlife Licence holder is also considered to have committed the offence, as the assistant is deemed to be operating under their direction. It is the licence holder’s responsibility to ensure that individuals in their employment hold a valid Assistant’s Licence and to ensure that they are aware of the activities that they are licensed to undertake.

Authority to Control Wildlife

Written authorisations are also issued by DELWP under section 28(A) of the Wildlife Act 1975, allowing an individual to partake in activities involving wildlife, including destruction and disposal, provided that DELWP is satisfied that the authorisation is necessary. Circumstances under which an authorisation may be necessary include:

  • Where wildlife is damaging any building, vineyard, orchard, crop, tree, pasture, habitat or other property owned, occupied or administered by the person to whom the authorisation is to be issued or property adjacent to or in proximity to property.
  • For the purposes of ensuring the health or safety of any person or class of persons.

If a landowner intends to contract the holder of a Wildlife Controller Licence to control any wildlife listed in Schedule 7, the landowner must first obtain an ATCW, which specifically names the contractor as an ‘agent’ unless the wildlife has been declared to be unprotected or is a reptile.

An ATCW specifies the taxa, number of individual animals, permitted method of control, location and the circumstance under which the wildlife is authorised to be controlled. An ATCW is also subject to conditions.

To obtain an ATCW, an applicant must complete the appropriate form and return it to DELWP along with any applicable fee.

Definitions

Indigenous means originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native.

A taxon is a group of genetically similar organisms that are classified together – for example, as the same species, genus, or family.

Terrestrial means of, on, or relating to the earth or dry land; an inhabitant of the earth.

A vertebrate is an animal that has a backbone.

Contact details

  • Pest Control Program

    Phone hours are: 9 am to 12 pm, Monday to Friday. Direct all other enquiries to the pest control email address. Postal address: GPO Box 4057, Melbourne VIC 3001