Frequently Asked Questions
All native mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians and many species of native plants are protected in NSW by the National Parks and Wildlife Act.
You'll need to get a licence from the NPWS if you want to:
- keep native animals as pets
- carry out research into protected fauna and flora
- move native animals across state and territory borders.
Keeping native animals as pets
Birds, frogs, reptiles and mammals - find out which species you can keep in NSW, and download licence application forms. MORE »
Trading in native animals and plants
See licences and policies for trade and commercial use of native plants and animals within NSW, and transport of native species across the state's borders. MORE »
Rehabilitating native animals
See the policy and codes of practice on rehabilitating native animals. MORE »
Licences for scientific, educational and conservation purposes
Do you wish to control native animals that are causing damage or economic hardship on your property? Are you planning a development or other activity that may harm a threatened species? Download licence application forms here. MORE »
You'll need a licence if you're doing any freshwater or saltwater fishing in NSW. Visit the NSW Fisheries website to find out more and buy a licence online. MORE »
Wildlife licences in other parts of Australia
The licensing information on this website only applies to NSW. Get links to fauna protection agencies in the Commonwealth and other states and territories to find out more about wildlife licences. MORE »
I would like a career in wildlife. What do I have to do?
To become a native animal expert you can undertake informal and formal education. By informal, I mean read whatever literature you find on Australian wildlife from your local and school libraries and consider joining a Society such as ours. Formal education can be undertaken by enrolling in a specialised course at Charles Sturt University at Bathurst or other science courses at local universities. To start your career before you leave school you might like to write to or visit all your local fauna parks and vets and volunteer your services in any capacity.You could also volunteer for work with National Parks or a local wildlife rescue group.Any such experience, plus formal qualifications, would be a good start to your chosen career.
I am doing a project on Australian wildlife. Can you help?
We are a conservation Society dedicated to conserving Australia’s wildlife through public awareness, education, information and legislation.Our Society is made up of volunteers and runs through the kind donations of our members. We have available to members a range of brochures on Australian wildlife, including a very detailed one on endangered wildlife.We also publish a quarterly magazine called Australian Wildlife that features many articles on our indigenous fauna and flora. You can also contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service in your state for more information on any of the various species of Australian wildlife. You can also contact your local Botanic Gardens for information on native plants and flowers.
What do you think of harvesting of kangaroos?
The Society does not support, but does not object to, the use of native plant or animal species for human needs provided:
- That harvesting is at sustainable levels.
- That the decision to allow such use is made on the basis of scientific evidence.
- That levels of exploitation are checked frequently and such levels revised on the basis of sound management practices which are themselves based on hard scientific data.
- That in the case of animal species, harvesting is carried out in a humane manner by licensed operators under the control of relevant government wildlife authorities.
On the advice of our Scientific Advisory Panel, we closely monitor the harvesting of four species of kangaroos, which are currently being harvested under license by the State Government and with the approval of the Federal Government under the New South Wales Commercial Kangaroo Harvest Management Plan 2012-2016. Kangaroos cannot be commercially taken in conservation areas such as national parks and nature reserves, which represents approximately 8.83% of NSW. The primary goal of the Management Plan is to ensure that the commercial harvest of kangaroos is ecologically sustainable. The kangaroo population is now around 60 million across Australia. We do not "support" the harvesting of kangaroos, nor do we object to the government-approved project based on clear scientific evidence with clear guidelines laid down, with strict supervision of the project.
The Facts on Kangaroos in Australia
There are 48 species of kangaroos in Australia. Of these only four can be commercially harvested under strict license conditions. In addition two species of wallaby are harvested in Tasmania under similar strict guidelines. The current kangaroo population estimate for the commercially harvested kangaroos released by the Federal Government puts their numbers at 50 - 60 million. This means there are more than twice as many kangaroos in Australia as there are cattle (28.7 million). It also means the total kangaroo population is a little more than half that of the Australian sheep population (113.3 million) and it's a long time since anyone considered Australian sheep or cattle to be at all endangered. The current kangaroo population is the highest ever recorded and it unquestionably makes kangaroos amongst the most common large wild land mammals on earth. This is in spite of the commercial kangaroo harvest of about 2.5 million last year. All of that clearly shows just how sustainably managed the kangaroo population is, as a result of the commercial kangaroo industry guidelines and strict conditions and constant monitoring. Our Society constantly monitors the harvesting program and is always ready to speak up to protect Australia's unique wildlife if circumstances change.
Could you please let me know what the population of the different native species (flora and fauna) across Australia is?
Do you have this information, or could you please refer us to specific resources, experts, other environmental groups that might be able to assist?
The best resource for this information would be The Australian Museum or the Wildlife Management Division of the CSIRO in Canberra for further details of the population of Australia's native species. It is interesting to note that the last estimated population of kangaroos was in the order 59 million. When Captain Cook landed the estimated population was about 3 million across Australia. Land clearing and Agricultural practices has allowed kangaroos to breed up.
What is the effect of drought on wildlife?
It is often assumed that, because drought is an economic disaster for humans living in the western districts of NSW, it is also a disaster for wildlife. However Homo sapiens is an introduced species, bringing with it farming and cultural traditions from the wetter Northern Hemisphere. The wildlife, both plant and animal, has evolved in and become adapted to the Australian environment throughout the increasing aridity of several million years. Some of the well-studied mechanisms for surviving drought include delayed implantation in some desert kangaroos and various forms of dormancy in native plants. Species survive, although individuals may not. A cyclic balance is maintained, but we need to bear in mind that interference with that cycle may have unfavourable consequences. Large scale artificial feeding for example may lead to a population rebound that outstrips resources when such support feeding stops.
Regardless of population dynamics, the death and suffering of individuals is visible and will increase as the drought continues. Kangaroos, wallabies and wombats seeking what fodder remains on road verges become road kills. Some kangaroos are already so weakened that they cannot move quickly enough to avoid onrushing vehicles. Graziers demand culling of kangaroos as they come to compete more and more with sheep and cattle for diminishing resources available on their properties.
The critical resource at present is fodder. Agricultural activities of European settlers have actually increased the availability of water at dams and bores across Australia. But the agricultural practices of the Northern Hemisphere and the imperatives of modern economics have also lead to overstocking of sheep of cattle and resulting land degradation. If any long-term solution to the loss of biodiversity in the western districts is to be found, it will require a solution to the related problems of overstocking and land degradation, including increased salinity of the surface soil.
Attention is usually focused on the wildlife species that are visibly suffering, mainly the large mammals. But small to medium sized mammals must face additional predation from introduced foxes and cats as drought causes a decrease in available prey. Drought is a time when native species, adapted to arid conditions, might be expected to actually have an advantage over introduced species, but that advantage can be wiped out by increased predation. Predator control must be part of any program that aims to protect native species in good times as well as in times of drought. Likewise exotic weed control is an important aspect of maintaining plant diversity in the Australian landscape.
The above considerations apply to broad scale management to insure survival of wildlife populations. However there is sure to come a point where a combination of factors put local wildlife populations in such jeopardy that intervention is necessary. This will be the case with isolated reserves and properties where recruitment from a larger population is blocked. And it may of course be ones own backyard. If food and/or water must be supplied, it must be done in a way that does not expose the target species to predators and does not create long term dependency. Food should be as close as possible to the natural diet and must not be supplied at a fixed feeding point. The Australian Wildlife Society has a policy on the feeding of wildlife that includes the above points.
The bottom line is that prevention is better than attempted cures. Drought cannot be prevented, however native species in the western districts have adaptations to drought conditions. Reduction of additional pressure brought about human activities is essential. This requires long term commitment by organisations such as our organisation, the Australian Wildlife Society that persists even when the rains return.
I have possums in my roof. How can I get rid of them?
Possums and other native wildlife are fully protected by law, so make sure you check your state regulations before taking matters into your own hands. In NSW, for example, possums cannot be trapped or harmed without an appropriate licence from the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service NPWS).
Possums are highly territorial and often fight to the death if they find themselves in another possum's territory. This is why in NSW adult possums are not permitted to be released any further than 50 metres away from where they were found. So to solve your possum-in-roof problem, you need to convince your possum to move out of your roof and into a possum box in your tree. This way it will actually protect your house from other possums.
There are plenty of guides to building your own possum box on the internet. The NPWS and some wildlife care groups also have some online tips on how you might encourage your possum to move out of your roof on its own accord. However, if trapping is required, talk to your local wildlife care group about the best options for your situation – they should be able to tell you whether you can get a licence to trap it yourself, or they may recommend a good possum trapper in your area. And once the possum is out – don't forget to possum-proof your roof to make sure it doesn't decide to move back in again.