Legislation regarding tape playback

To: <>, <>, <>
Subject: Legislation regarding tape playback
From: Simon Mustoe <>
Date: Thu, 4 Jun 2009 22:03:08 +0000

I agree with Phil. I also think it would be a shame if we ended up in a society 
that prohibited a natural right to go birding. For reasons I am about to 
explain, we are almost in that situation already.

Where governments / courts have determined the use of tapes to be unreasonable, 
then the same restrictions apply to approaching birds (especially with nests), 
pishing, or even walking through forest.

The following link contains a summary of the animal ethics policy situations 
throughout Australia. I am afraid it differs in every state, so it takes some 
understanding. It is noteworthy however, that most constraints apply to 
'research' or'science'. In theory, anyone who is collecting data for Birds 
Australia or BOCA has to operate under an animal ethics approval in many 
states. Tasmania is one of the most draconian - Birds Australia actually 
maintains a licence. If you walk past a bird in Tassie, you are potentially in 
breach of their legislation, if you are doing so as a consequence of science.

Although I have the greatest respect for the research that people may do into 
these subjects, tape-playback is an easy target - the impact potential is 
evident, so it's just a matter of measuring it. Researchers who carry out this 
work with a view to tighter policy must understand this could affect 
conservation outcomes. Birding contributes more data to environmental control 
than any other interest group. The gradual destruction of the environment 
through land clearance etc is a much worse problem and is only addressed 
through an improved connection between society and the environment - that 
includes data gathering by volunteers. Anyone researching the topic of impacts 
on birds from call-playback, or
any other 'disturbance' caused by birders should keep in mind the
benefits versus the costs. Yes, there are bound to be potentially
serious local problems - we know this already and most wildlife
protection laws already prohibit disturbance of birds at the nest. We may not 
need tighter animal welfare legislation.

One would hope that this is where law meets common sense. However, the "law", 
strictly speaking is meaningless as many of these requirements are being 
brought in via policy and regulations -  this bypasses the courts. I have heard 
that such policies
are contributing to the closure of community conservation
groups in my area - the annual reporting requirements are quite
considerable, especially when added to the public liability issues.

Prescribing laws for individual animal welfare, if that prohibits birdwatching, 
is also (in my view) a breach of basic human rights - but then Australia 
doesn't have any Humans Rights legislation. Although I respect the need for 
animal welfare (and I am a firm believer in this) I refer back to my statement 
in the second paragraph. Stronger laws for individual animal protection is 
beginning to affect not only tape-playback but all other traditional forms of 
birding. In some states, looking through a pair of binoculars and writing down 
the sighting in a notebook is an offence without a licence. There are few who 
would believe this is actually necessary to protect birds.

Let's not lose sight of the fact that our ecosystems are suffering catastrophic 
changes and that we need more people out birding, not less. Personally, I think 
a ban on tape-playback, except at very specific locations, is likely to 
contribute little to conservation of birds. Time would be better spent lobbying 
for better habitat protection or researching methods of land management for 



> From: 
> To: 
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Legislation regarding tape playback
> Date: Thu, 4 Jun 2009 16:46:54 +1000
> CC: 
> Phil,
> REGULATION 2006 - SECT 139, says:
> "Disturbance by radio, tape recorder or sound system
> A person must not use a radio, tape recorder or other sound or
> amplifier system in a way that may cause unreasonable disturbance to a
> person or animal in a protected area.
> Maximum penalty--50 penalty units." Qld's penalty units are worth $100
> at the moment.
> I don't know if anyone has been charged under Sect 139, but it would
> be interesting to see the legal arguments pro and con. The argument
> hinges on "in a way that may cause unreasonable disturbance to a
> person or animal". It would be hard to prove that an animal had not
> been "unreasonably disturbed" by a play-back, but then again it would 
> be hard to prove it had.
> I think most Magistrates would not look on using play-back as a
> serious breach and may very well dismiss the matter or only hit the
> defendant with a couple of hundred dollars plus costs.
> I would contact the relevant department's (National Parks?) regulatory
> section and sound them out on the current enforcement policy on using
> play-back under Sect 139, they may very well decide to use their
> powers of discretion and turn a deaf ear to play-back.
> Cheers,
> Carl Clifford
> On 04/06/2009, at 4:03 PM, Phil & Sue Gregory wrote:
> Dear all,
> My mate Bret Whitney is compiling a paper about the potential negative
> effects of overuse of tapes on birds, a growing issue as the use of
> digital recordings is becoming so widespread.
> Here is his request:
> Thanks for this info.  I wonder if you could possibly find the
> official number of the law and date it went into effect in
> Queensland?  Has anyone ever actually been arrested or cited to pay a
> fine or other penalty?  It seems that we’re all fearing fines and
> penalties from heresay or sign-postings about playback — but is it
> actually a law anywhere?  Would a park actually have legal grounds in
> a court of law for leveling a fine on someone?  Perhaps so, but it’s 
> not at all clear to me, at least.  Not that I want to fight any fine I 
> or others might ever receive — I just want to know if there is
> actually any written, formal legislation on the subject anywhere in
> the world.  I’m having trouble finding anything here in the US.
> If anyone can help that'd be great. Thanks
> Phil Gregory
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
> send the message:
> unsubscribe
> (in the body of the message, with no Subject line)
> to: 
> ==============================
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
> send the message:
> unsubscribe
> (in the body of the message, with no Subject line)
> to: 
> ==========

With Windows Live, you can organise, edit, and share your photos.

To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)
<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU