The regulatory framework for wildlife protection

There are a number of laws that make up the regulatory framework for the protection of wildlife in Victoria. The primary legislation is the Wildlife Act 1975. Note that the Victorian Government is currently conducting a review of the Wildlife Act 1975.

The Wildlife Act 1975 and associated regulations provide a framework for members of the community wishing to control, possess, display, breed, trade-in or interact with wildlife. They also provide the framework for the rescue and rehabilitation of
wildlife by authorised volunteers, wildlife shelters and foster carers. The Wildlife Regulations 2013 include an offence to damage, disturb or destroy wildlife habitat.

The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 provides a legislative basis for listing threatened species and communities. This Act is designed to protect, conserve, restore and enhance biodiversity.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 specifies the provisions for protection of all animals from cruelty and suffering. This Act is used to ensure the welfare of wildlife both in the wild and where
the wildlife is held in captivity or subject to human interference under a licence, permit or authority.

The Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 contains provisions to protect wildlife from timber harvesting in native forests through the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014 (the Code) and its incorporated management standards and procedures.

The Code contain explicit requirements for
the protection of some species, and implicit requirements protecting habitat and the wider ecosystem through the application of mandatory actions such application of as the precautionary principle. The Conservation Regulator’s intent and actions regarding the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 are detailed in the Regulating timber harvesting in State forests under the Allocation Order – Statement of Regulatory Intent.

In 2021, the Wildlife Act 1975 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 are both under review. The Conservation Regulator commits to reviewing and updating this Statement of Regulatory Intent on the finalisation of these legislative reforms, and following any future relevant legislative review or reform processes.

Table 1 lists the Victorian and Federal legislation the Conservation Regulator has responsibility for and interest in for the purposes of wildlife regulation. For more detailed information on the regulatory framework that Conservation Regulator works under, see Annex 1, and the laws themselves at Victorian Legislation.

Table 1: Legislation of responsibility and interest in wildlife regulation

Primary legislation

Where the Conservation Regulator is the primary regulator

  • Wildlife Act 1975 (all wildlife)
  • Wildlife Regulations 2013 (wildlife habitat)
  • Wildlife (Marine Mammal) Regulations 2019
  • Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (threatened wildlife)
  • Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004

Secondary legislation

Where the Conservation Regulator has responsibility but is not the primary regulator or administrator

  • Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986
  • Wildlife (State Game Reserves) Regulations 2014

Intersecting legislation

Where the Conservation Regulator has interest but no responsibility for the purposes of this document

  • (Commonwealth) Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999
  • Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012
  • Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010
  • National Parks Act 1975

Out of scope legislation

  • Planning and Environment Act 1987 (for the purposes of protecting native vegetation on private property)