It’s hard to believe these cute and cuddly koalas were once considered pests in Australia!
Did you know that a number of native Australian animals were once considered pests and had bounty’s on their heads?
Information sourced: Australian Geographic
- Koala (vulnerable)
- Tasmanian Devils
- Thylacines (extinct)
- Wedge-tail Eagle
Bounty: No Bounty.
Reason: Hunted for their fur.
Summary: Queensland allowed culling of these animals in 1927, with an estimated 800,000 koalas being killed. It is estimated that 8 million koalas were killed between 1888 and 1927 for the USA and Europe fur trade.
In Queensland, koalas are considered a “vulnerable” species.
Bounty: One dollar per head 1926 to 1966 (Victoria)
Reason: Wombats were considered vermin (in fact, in some states right up until 1984!).
Summary: The wombats were brutally hunted for bounties – poisoning, trapping, shooting, skinning. Wombats were considered destructive, damaging farmers’ fences and other infrastructure. Additionally, wombat holes caused havoc in paddocks when cattle broke their legs in the gaps or as burrows collapsed.
- Common wombat – most minor concern.
- Southern hairy nose wombat – Near threatened
- Northern hairy nose wombat – Critically endangered
Bounty: Two shillings and sixpence for males and three shillings and sixpence for females from 1830 to 1941
Reason: It was alleged that the Tasmanian devil was a threat to livestock, primarily chickens.
Summary: Sadly, Tasmanian devils were trapped and poisoned for over a century, with the farming group Van Diemen’s Land Company placing a bounty on their heads. In 1941 the Tasmanian devils became protected. Whilst population numbers grew, the species was further impacted in the 1990s, but a facial tumour disease has seen the number plummet by up to 90% in some areas.
Bounty: One pound per head and ten shillings for sub-adults from 1888 to 1909 (Tasmanian Government).
Reason: Alleged threat to livestock, especially poultry. Researchers believe this to be significantly exaggerated.
Summary: The Thylacines were hunted to the point of extinction. The last Thylacine died the same year the animal finally gained protection under Tasmanian law.
Bounty: Five shillings per head from 1940 to 1942 (Western Australia)
Reason: A misconception that wedge-tail eagles threatened farmers’ livestock
Summary: While the bounty was in place, it is estimated that over 140,00 were killed in Western Australia between 1928 and 1968 and 160,00 in Queensland between 1951 and 1966. Today, the eagles are protected under respective state laws, with penalties of up to $8000 in fines and imprisonment for their persecution. Conservation efforts have seen several wedge-tail eagles increase.
Endangered in Tasmania.