All native birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals (except the dingo) are protected in New South Wales by the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. Hundreds of these species are listed as threatened. The Department of Planning and Environment works to protect these species and their habitats.
Some fish species are also protected under NSW legislation. Check the Department of Primary Industries Fisheries website for details of protected fish species and threatened fish species.
Land-based invertebrate species are not protected by law in New South Wales unless they are listed as threatened. Aquatic invertebrates are the responsibility of the Department of Primary Industries. Visit the Fisheries website to find out which species are protected.
Exceptions or limits to the protection of native animals
Some native birds in certain areas
In certain parts of New South Wales, some native birds are not protected and can be harmed (culled) due to their adverse impacts on agriculture:
- sulphur-crested cockatoos and galahs have been declared 'locally unprotected' in the Western, North West, Central West, Riverina and Murray Local Land Services regions (excluding national parks and conservation areas), because of the damage they do to grain and oilseed crops
- crows and ravens (corvids) are protected only in Greater Sydney Local Land Services region (and national parks and conservation areas) because they are blamed for the deaths of lambs in other areas
- the purple swamphen is not protected in 10 irrigation districts and areas in the Riverina and Murray Local Land Services regions (excluding national parks and conservation areas), where the species causes considerable damage to irrigated crops such as rice.
In New South Wales, the term 'wild dog' refers to dingoes, feral dogs, and hybrids. Wild dogs (including dingoes) are listed as priority pests in all regions of New South Wales, which places a duty on private landholders and public land managers to minimise the negative impacts of these species on their land and neighbouring lands under the Biosecurity Act 2015. Dingoes are therefore not protected under the Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Research has shown that over 90% of wild dogs in New South Wales are hybrids. However, although these animals pose a threat to livestock on agricultural land, they can also fulfil the ecological role of the dingo in natural environments. The NSW Wild Dog Strategy promotes a balance between managing wild dogs in areas where they have a negative impact, while preserving the ecological role of the dingo. Consistent with the strategy, wild dog control is not undertaken in parts of the landscape with a lower risk of negative impacts from wild dogs, to allow wild dogs to fulfil the ecological role of the dingo.
Protection of species in parks and reserves
All plants and animals living in NSW national parks and reserves are legally protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.
Although most species of native mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians are protected throughout the state, the department can licence people and organisations to control, hold and trade in protected species. For example, people can be licensed to: