Nature conservation

Threatened species

Spotted Harrier (Circus assimilis)

Saving our Species strategy

This species has been assigned to the Landscape species management stream under the Saving our Species (SoS) program.

Justification for allocation to this management stream

This species is distributed across relatively large areas and is subject to threatening processes that generally act at the landscape scale (e.g. habitat loss or degradation) rather than at distinct, defineable locations. Nesting sites may require specific management.

Conservation status

Management objectives

This SoS strategy aims to ensure that the species is secure in the wild in NSW and that its NSW geographic range is extended or maintained and maintain its conservation status under the BC Act.

Species sightings and management sites across NSW

The map below displays the species’ distribution in NSW, based upon the species’ geographic range, habitat distribution or area of occupancy (to as high a resolution as available data allow, using a range of data sources).

Information about the species’ habitat and ecology is available here.

The map may also display one or more management sites where management of important populations is underway. More information is available in the tables below.


The species occurs in the following IBRA (Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia) regions in NSW:

Australian Alps
Brigalow Belt South
Broken Hill Complex
Channel Country
Cobar Peneplain
Darling Riverine Plains
Mulga Lands
Murray Darling Depression
New England Tablelands
NSW North Coast
NSW South Western Slopes
Simpson Strzelecki Dunefields
South East Corner
South Eastern Highlands
Sydney Basin

Proportion of the species' distribution on reserve

7% of the species' distribution occurs on reserve (within NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service estate).

Critical actions for this species

The key threats to the viability of landscape-managed species are loss, fragmentation and degradation of habitat, and widespread pervasive factors such as impacts of climate change and disease. Many of these threats are addressed by NSW planning, native vegetation, and biodiversity legislation, policy and programs including the offsets program (BioBanking, NSW Biodiversity Offsets Policy for Major Projects), Biodiversity Certification, management of environmental water and reservation under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

Threats to this species are outlined here.

The actions listed in the action toolbox are supplementary to NSW legislation, policy and programs and can be used by stakeholders, where applicable to guide management at a site, regional or state scale.

Action toolbox

Action DescriptionScale
Avoid the use of pindone in rabbit eradication programs in areas where spotted harriers are known or likely to occur. Area
Report suspected poisoning or mortalities to Environment Line (131 555). Site
Avoid the use of rodenticides in areas where spotted harriers are known or likely to occur. Site, Area
Protect grassy open woodland including acacia and mallee remnants, inland riparian woodland, grasslands and shrublands, particularly in the NSW sheep wheat belt, Western and Riverine Plains. Where possible, negotiate management agreements with landholders that are funded in perpetuity that allows ongoing recruitment of native local trees, shrubs and grasses. Site, Area
Identify active or inactive nest sites with stick nests more than 40cm in diameter and protect nests and nest trees from damage and removal. Ensure that active nests are not disturbed during the breeding season (August-December) by restricting activities within 50m of the nest. Monitor active nests to determine breeding success and reproductive output. Site
Retain living and dead paddock trees and plant or direct seed appropriate local acacia, casuarina, callitris and eucalypt species, to replace these trees in the long-term. Ideally, planted paddock trees should be spaced no more than 50m apart to provide connectivity for other fauna species. State
Raise awareness amongst land managers of the biodiversity and production value of protecting paddock trees and the need to ensure their replacement over the long term through planting and direct seeding. State

How will this species be managed?

Key management sites for this threatened species are being identified by the NSW Government and other program partners, where feasible, cost-effective and beneficial management actions can be undertaken. Currently, no management sites have been identified for this threatened species.

Are you or is someone you know doing conservation work for this species or in this area?

Contact us to tell us about the work. Your input will help OEH evaluate the status of threatened species and provide a broader picture of conservation work across NSW.