A VICTORIAN Farmers Federation representative wants wombats to remain unprotected wildlife across large parts of the North East.
Peter Star, Upper Murray farmer and VFF councillor, was reacting to state Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio reviewing an order, first made in 1984, that declares wombats as unprotected in 193 areas in eastern Victoria.
"Yes wombats are native fauna and yes in some people's eyes I agree it does seem strange they're unprotected but they're unprotected because of the damage they do to farmland," Mr Star said.
"I would like to see it stay that way.
"The wombats were unprotected in those areas for a reason because they were at pest proportions and I don't think it's any different.
"The wild dogs have hunted them out of the bush and now you've got deers, I just think they should concentrate on an integrated pest management program rather than kowtowing to a few individuals.
"Put money into pest management and do something about the invertebrate pests in state and national parks that pose enormous threats to our native environment.
"They've been given that classification because there's bucketloads of them, not because we've got wombat-hating hillbillies living in the bush."
Mr Star said wombat holes damaged land, posed a risk to farm vehicles and burrowing could result in dams leaking.
Member for Benambra Bill Tilley agreed with Mr Star on wombat numbers, saying "you would be hard pressed to find a farmer or in fact anyone who drives our roads that thinks wombats are threatened or endangered".
However, he welcomed the order, which applies to parishes in the Kiewa Valley, Mitta Valley and Towong in his electorate, being revisited.
"The parish system with its mish-mash of protected and unprotected zones is confusing and a relic of our colonial past that needs to be reviewed," Mr Tilley said.
"But I wouldn't want to see any legislative changes that lead to further restrictions or more paperwork for our farmers.
"It needs to be a common sense approach, practical and removed from the rhetoric and emotion of the perpetually outraged on social media."
The review by Ms D'Ambrosio was sparked by reports of Chinese tourists shooting at wombats amid a hunting trip to a Yea property.
Mr Tilley noted "no one wants to see native animals needlessly slaughtered".
The departmental review will scrutinise wombat population and distribution.
Australian Wildlife Protection Council secretary Eve Kelly said a lack of detail of wombat numbers made it hard to justify not protecting them in the 193 parishes.
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