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NSW Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - Liable to Prosecution?

Discussion in 'Other/General Law Forum' started by Stephen McLeod, 28 August 2014.

  1. Stephen McLeod

    28 August 2014
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    Hello. I work for a local council that lends Indian Myna bird traps to local residents upon request to trap and euthanase Indian Mynas on their private properties.

    Indian Mynas are not a declared Pest Species in NSW but they are a nuisance to many people and some local councils in NSW support their residents by lending traps to them. We lend the traps to residents with a manual that explains how to operate the trap and how to humanely dispose of the trapped birds. However, since we are essentially conniving in the killing of animals on private land by lending these traps, I’m wondering whether we are also liable to prosecution under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 NSW if the resident violates this Act.

    Violation in this instance means the inhumane treatment of the bird, such as leaving it in a stressed state in the trap (i.e. overnight without food or water) or letting the bird die in the trap, which is a cruel way of killing it. This does happen on occasion. As well as the private resident, would Council also be liable to prosecution or fines under the Act for being party to the criminal offence by owning and lending the trap to the resident?

    Thank you for considering this question.
  2. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

    14 April 2014
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    Hi Stephen,
    The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW) and associated 2012 Regulation is an interesting read.
    Assuming the council:
    1. is not supplying prohibited traps per section 23 of the Act; and
    2. is taking "all reasonable steps" (that is, the reasonable steps to be expected by a reasonable council in NSW in helping their residents to deal with a nuisance animal) to prevent cruelty to Indian Myna birds per section 33C of the Act,
    then my understanding is that it is unlikely that the council could be liable for animal cruelty under the Act.

    As a side note, in relation to "all reasonable steps", this may require the council to review/update the trap manual supplied to residents if the council became aware of cruelty to Indian Mynas because their trap manual was unclear on proper trap monitoring, disposal methods, etc.

    Hope this helps.
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  3. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer
    LawTap Verified Lawyer

    28 April 2014
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    Are you asking in your personal capacity, or on behalf of Council?

    I do not accept this premise.

    You mean the Council staff as individuals?
    No, I don't think so.
    To the extent that it applies to individual Council employees, I agree with @John R above.

    It's not for us to be giving speculative quasi-advice to Council.
    As to the exposure of individual Council officers, see my reply above.
    In the event of Council officials (especially, but not only, Rangers) becoming aware of breaches of the Act,
    I'd actually be considering prosecuting the resident where doing so was in the public interest.
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