Abstract: Market-based instruments (MBIs) are essentially policy instruments that use price or other economic variables to provide incentives for solving a particular issue. In this case, the issue is the management of large feral herbivores (LFH); specifically feral camels, feral donkeys and feral horses. The aim of this project was to deliver the most cost-effective removal mechanism to achieve desired reductions in LFH densities in strategically defined and selected regions, with the focus primarily directed towards feral camels. With financial support from the Australian Government’s Caring for Our Country program, the MBI approach was tested in Western Australia (WA) as part of a larger cross-jurisdictional assessment of MBIs. In WA, government agencies and land managers have become increasingly concerned about the impacts of LFHs in the rangelands. These animals have had a serious and expanding impact on biodiversity, culturally-valued heritage sites and pastoral infrastructure, requiring increased control efforts to curb their destructive effects. A targeted number of LFH were identified to be removed in a strategically selected area of pastoral land (in the Wiluna Shire of WA) to counteract any anticipated level of natural recruitment of LFH through breeding. A competitive tender (i.e. a MBI) requested suitably qualified professionals to provide and implement a strategy to undertake a short-term LFH control, whilst also aiming to foster in the region economic and social outcomes such as employment, infrastructure development and community engagement. No specific control mechanisms were prescribed in the tender documents. However methods proposed and used did need to meet acceptable animal welfare standards and be acceptable to the WA Department of Agriculture and Food. Some methods of control, such as aerial shooting, were not permitted because of the need to use government shooters for such operations. The competitive tender process was besieged with issues and roadblocks. Examples of the kinds of issued encountered included land tenure matters and access to lands, willingness of landholders to be involved, unforseen weather events and the natural variability in LFH densities. Obstacles like these caused changes in the terms of tender (e.g. revising down target number of LFHs) and progress of the contract. Even the revised LFH removal target was unable to be met, 181 feral camels, 2 feral donkeys and 304 feral horses were removed from the landscape. In summary, the MBI approach tested in WA (i.e. a competitive tender approach to removing LFH from the landscape using techniques other than aerial control) was ineffective, costly, controversial, and did not offer a viable means of feral camel management. However, significant lessons and knowledge were gained by going through the process (e.g. landholder expectations, Aboriginal engagement, contract processes, legislation issues, animal welfare, dealing with unforseen risks etc.), which will subsequently guide future management activities. Given the generic term of MBIs there may be other mechanisms worth exploring such as carbon markets or declared species groups, but the competitive tender approach to animal removal cannot be recommended in WA.
Rose, K, Martin, G, Gavin, J, Agnew, D, Woolnough, A, 2011, Assessment of a market based instrument approach to removing large feral herbivores from the landscape in Western Australia, Conference Paper, viewed 11 December 2023, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=4970.