Protected animal specimens draft code of practice: public consultation

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service are working on a draft protected animal specimens code of practice.

Taxidermy short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) on display at Royal National Park Visitor Information CentreWe are applying a risk-based approach to regulating activities under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 to reduce administrative burdens and modernise and streamline regulation. Certain previously licensed activities will no longer require a biodiversity conservation licence and instead can be carried out in line with an enforceable code of practice.

The draft code of practice sets out compliance requirements for possessing and dealing in protected animal specimens, such as taxidermy carcasses, animal materials, animal parts and skeletal materials. The code will not apply to certain activities and specimens. This includes but is not limited to:

  • individuals carrying out the process of taxidermy
  • threatened species specimens, birds of prey specimens
  • unpreserved specimens (blood, tissue and organs) and importing and exporting protected preserved specimens to and from New South Wales – these activities may still require a biodiversity conservation licence.

Submissions on the draft code closed 19 February 2023.

Under the Biodiversity Conservation Act, the department administers over 30 classes of 'biodiversity conservation licences' to regulate interactions between humans and native animals and plants.

Wildlife licence classes cover a diverse range of activities, including:

  • activities that impact threatened species and threatened ecological communities
  • harvesting and trading in native animals and plants
  • harming native animals that pose threats to safety and property
  • keeping and dealing in native animals as pets
  • protected animal specimens (taxidermy)
  • scientific, conservation, and educational activities involving native animals and plants.

All wildlife licence classes are being reviewed to assist with implementing the risk-based approach to regulating human-wildlife activities under the Biodiversity Conservation Act.

The review will also consider options to streamline licence administration and enable us to concentrate enforcement efforts on higher-risk activities. Some aspects and changes of the licensing reform will not be implemented until a new licensing system is in place. This is expected to be in 2023–24.

The Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017 (Section 2.9) allows for creating a code of practice relating to animals or plants as a defence to the Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Codes of practice set out the compliance, animal welfare and management guidelines for activities involving protected wildlife that previously would require a biodiversity conservation licence.

The draft code applies to the following:

  • carcasses, preserved specimens or skeletal remains
  • skin and feathers of protected animals
  • non-viable egg or egg shards from protected animals

Activities that involve varying levels of increased risk will be excluded from this code of practice to effectively manage conservation threats and harm to wildlife populations and animal welfare. This includes:

  • the process of carrying out taxidermy
  • importing or exporting preserved specimens to or from New South Wales
  • specimens of threatened species, marine mammals, sea turtles, or birds of prey
  • carcasses of kangaroos harmed for commercial purposes
  • carcasses of animals harmed for non-commercial purposes
  • ambergris
  • unpreserved specimens such as blood, tissue and organs of animals
  • preservation of specimens by cryopreservation.

Before implementing changes to existing wildlife licence classes, the department will notify relevant applicants beforehand if they:

  • have applied for but no longer need a licence
  • currently have a licence that may no longer be required and will be subject to complying with the enforceable code of practice once implemented
  • hold a licence that may have amended conditions once the code is implemented.

Your current licence to carry out taxidermy still applies, but the conditions are proposed to change subject to public feedback. This may include allowing a person to trade, buy, sell and possess protected specimens.

A form of registration will improve our capacity as a regulator, including the ability to increase education and notify people in the event of any changes.

The proposed registration is a 'once off' unless your contact information changes or you trade in a protected animal specimen.

This is a draft code of practice, and we welcome comments from stakeholders, licensees and the community on all aspects of the code.

The proposed draft code of practice includes trade (including buying and selling). As the opportunity to buy and sell protected specimens is not currently permitted under a biodiversity conservation licence, trading limits may be an issue considered through review of the draft code of practice.

This is to ensure we can monitor and regulate these additional activities in consideration of potential commercial and conservation risks following implementation.

This is a draft code of practice, and we welcome comments from stakeholders, licensees, and the community on all aspects of the code.

The draft code of practice proposes that a person must register their contact details and specimen information with the department and then annually only in the event of your specimens changing to comply with the code of practice.

The department deals with compliance matters strategically, and the code of practice will sit within this regulatory framework.

We will continue to monitor and respond to reports from the community on non-compliant activities.