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Guide for completing the Secretary’s ACEC Fauna Survey Project Application form

Please find below some guidance in answering some specific questions where there is often confusion about what is required.

Applications must include all details requested. Please do not refer to any Standard Operating Procedures or Guidelines that the ACEC has not already referenced in the application form.

Section 1. Administration

Project Number box

This is the CSB or Trim number allocated to your project if you have previously had the project approved by the Secretary’s ACEC. If you are renewing your project application, please add in the number on the top of the letter sent regarding approval of your project or your Animal Research Authority. It will look something like 18/123, V19/1234 or RVF21/1234.

If you are applying for a new project, you do not need to complete this box.

Question 2. Have you previously held an Animal Research Authority with the Secretary’s Animal Care and Ethics Committee?

If you have not been named as a Principal Investigator on a Secretary's ACEC Animal Research Authority previously, you will need to provide your current Curriculum Vitae as well as two written independent references relating to your experience and competence in the procedures you are applying to undertake. You will also need to submit a signed ACEC Sharing agreement.

Section 2. Project Details and Personnel

Question 1 a) Title of Proposed Research

Please make this relatively short. You can give more details in the question below 1 b) – Type of research.

Question 2. Personnel

Please include details of Principal and Associate Investigators and Other Participants’ experience relevant to the species and what they will actually be doing during the project. Please see the definitions of Associate Investigators and Other Participants in the application form

Question 4a. Proposed date of commencement

The date of commencement must be after the date of the scheduled ACEC meeting the application is submitted to. The ACEC will often require additional information after the meeting and will approve projects after receiving satisfactory responses. The commencement date on the Animal Research Authority (ARA) will be from the date of approval. If your project application is time sensitive, please make this clear in the email when submitting the application.

For projects being renewed after 3 years, the renewal application and annual report need to be submitted to a meeting scheduled before the project approval and ARA expiry dates. ARAs will not be backdated if the report or application are submitted late. Animal research without a current ARA is illegal under the Animal Research Act 1985 and data collected without a current ARA cannot be used or published.

Question 5.2 Research Procedures

If you are potentially trapping animals, the answer here is P3.

If you are only observing and not trapping animals, the answer is P1.

If you are capturing then conducting surgery, such as surgically implanting an acoustic tag or PIT tag/microchip, the answer is P4.

Question 6. Licences

When writing the application, please confirm whether you need a Scientific Licence to conduct the research/survey work you are applying to do, including when done on privately owned land.

Section 3. Justification for Animal Use

Question 7. Justify why the project needs to exist and specify what you hope to achieve by describing the aims and purpose of the project.

Provide details of why the project needs to occur. You can include details relating to legislative requirements, if relevant.

Section 4. Ethical Considerations

Question 11. Non capture survey methods

Please initially complete the Non-capture survey method table. Only those methods ticked on the left side column and any additional methods not included in the table need to further described in the Q11 tables.

If using radiotracking, tick the relevant box in the left column and then provide more details at Appendix 1 of the application form.

If using drones, tick the relevant box in the left column and then provide more details at Appendix 2 of the application form.

Copy and paste the Q11 table for each of the non-capture methods you need to further describe and provide the details required. Below is a table giving some examples of the type of details the ACEC would like to see in the Q11 Tables. Details you provide do not have to be limited to these examples.

Please do not reference standard operating procedures or guidelines that are not already referenced in the application form by the ACEC. The ACEC wants to see the details of what you will actually do in the application.

Non-Capture methods

Suggested details

Call playback

-Duration (time) of playback and frequency (how often) and species calls used

Hair tubes

-Brief details about the tape and where the tape is placed in the tube and how you prevent reptiles getting stuck to the tape.


-Spotlight intensity

-Length of time animal exposed to spotlight

-Length of spotlighting session each night

-Filter use

-Number of nights used during surveys

Infra-red, thermal imaging or digital cameras

-Are camera sites baited/unbaited

-Do cameras use white flash or infrared light

Question 13. Capture survey methods

Provide details in the Q18 Table about each capture method you are applying to use. Copy and paste the table in the application, using a new table for each different type of trapping method you plan to use. Below is a table giving some examples of the type of details the ACEC would like to see in the Q18 Tables. Please refer also to the Animal Research Review Panel’s guideline ‘Wildlife surveys’ and the Secretary’s ACEC ‘Trapping Policy’.

Please do not reference standard operating procedures or guidelines that are not already referenced in the application form by the ACEC. The ACEC wants to see the details of what you will actually do in the application.

b) Details of trap or net setting, including how potential adverse impacts are avoided or minimised

Details you provide do not have to be limited to these examples below

Traps/net types

Suggested details


Dry Pitfall

- Design of traps and what is included in the traps

- Methods for protection from injury, desiccation, drowning, inclement weather and extreme temperatures, predation and insect infestation.

Cage, Elliot, Box, Pipe, Funnel

- Details of what bedding/litter etc is included in the traps

- Baiting type, if used

- Methods of protection from injury, weather and extreme temperatures, predation and insect infestation.

Harp traps

- The type of location they will be set, e.g., in flyways or other locations

- When will they be furled?

- Are you trying to trap bats or birds?

- Precautions taken for inclement weather or extreme temperatures.

Mist nets

-The type of location they will be set

-Target species

- How quickly bats or birds are removed from the net

- When will they be furled?

- Precautions taken for inclement weather or extreme temperatures


Fyke nets, Cathedral and box traps

-Type of location placed

- Whether baits are used and type

- How air breathing animals that are captured (including platypus if applicable) are protected

- Whether the traps are secured to land and if floats are included

- Maximum potential time animals held in traps

- When the traps are open and closed

- Precautions taken for inclement weather or extreme temperatures and protected from predation


- Whether this will be conducted following the procedures outlined in the Australian Code of Electrofishing Practice (1997).

-Type of water used in

- How stunned fish are collected

- How non-target animals are protected

- Conditions animals placed in after capture

Seine, Trawl, Cast and dip nets

- Net details and how used

- Type of water set in

- Maximum potential time animals held in nets

- Conditions animals placed in after capture

- Protection provided for air breathing and non-target species

Gill Nets

- Net details and how used, whether weighted or unweighted with a buoyant floating surface line

- Type of water set in

- Maximum potential time animals held in nets

- How damage to animal is minimised during removal

- Conditions animals placed in after capture

- Protection provided for air breathing and non-target species

c) Number of traps set and over what period of time (e.g., No. of nights)

The maximum number of days or nights per trapping session the ACEC will generally approve Elliott and Cage trapping is 4 consecutive nights, unless this can be satisfactorily justified in the application. The reason for this is to try to avoid recapture.

d) Maximum number of traps per investigator per trapping session

Maximum combined number of Elliott and Cage traps per investigator the ACEC will usually approve per day/night is 100, unless this can be satisfactorily justified in the application. The number of traps set per investigator must be able be cleared within two hours of sunrise.

e) Frequency and time of trap monitoring/clearing

Describe here the frequency of checking each of the types of traps, including the time in relation to sunrise or sunset. Please see the guidance below:

Terrestrial and arboreal trapping

The Secretary’s ACEC Trapping Policy guidance for frequency of trap monitoring and clearance is that traps must be cleared within 2 hours of sunrise.

Additional guidance includes:

For DRY PITFALL traps, these should be checked twice daily in hot weather

For HARP traps, should be cleared within 2 hours of dusk and again within 2 hours of sunrise, but before the sun begins to warm the trap material.

Aquatic trapping

For FYKE nets, check every 4 hours where there is a chance of trapping air breathing animals, especially platypus, and more frequently in cold weather.

For GILL nets, continuous or frequent monitoring and lifting of nets is required to remove snags, turtles or fish, which can hold the net down and result in captured air breathing animals being unable to reach the surface.

Question 13.1. If using Mist Nets, please detail experience and training in use

If using mist nets, provide details here of experience in using Mist Nets here. Further details about ABBBS banding qualifications are requested in Question 22(c). Complete a table in Question 18 for mist nets if you are using these.

Question 15. Lactating mammals

If you plan to use from the Secretary’s ACEC Trapping Policy under Point 7, Lactating animals, tick ‘yes’ and then only add any additional methods you plan to use here.

Question 16. Give details (sequentially) on what happens to the animals from the time they are captured until the time they are released

The ACEC wants to see a general step by step description of what happens to the animals that are captured in the survey(s). A table or diagram or flow chart can help make it clear.

For example:

  • trap is set and animal is caught
  • animal removed from the trap and placed in calico bag
  • animal is identified, weighed and measured
  • animal is then removed from the bag and is marked using non-toxic marking pen in case of recapture
  • animal is then released near the point of capture in a covered area
  • if a bat is caught and it is too late in the day to safely release, it is held during the day in an individual calico bag until night, when it is released at or near the point of capture.

Question 17. Will any biological samples be taken, e.g., ear punch, milk, blood, hair, scales?

17.1 If you are collecting samples, please describe how this will be done, how animals will be restrained to collect the samples, if required.

Question 18. Will animals be marked for identification?

a) Provide details of type of identification/marking used and how the procedure is done.

b) Provide details of the experience of the people who are doing the identification with the particular methods used or what supervision/training they will receive.

c) Provide details of project number for the project proposal application submitted to ABBBS and details of each ABBBS authorised bander participating in the project. Please note: The project should have already been submitted to the ABBBS and received provisional approval before seeking AEC approval. ABBBS final approval is then dependent on AEC approval.

Question 20.What possible harm or adverse effects could there be on the animals during trapping and from handling and any procedures undertaken? (e.g., injury from trapping, injury due to method of individual identification or sample collection, etc).

List the potential factors that could cause animals harm or adverse effects during the procedures undertaken. This may include, but not limited to injury from trapping, injury from placing acoustic tags, injury from blood sampling.

Please address how you will minimise or avoid these adverse effects in Question 21 below.

Question 21. How will these adverse effects, including pain and distress, be minimised?

For each of the possible adverse impacts on animal wellbeing listed in Question 20, provide details of the measures you will take to avoid or minimise this impact.

Question 22c. Will animals be held (i.e., held captive in a bag, cage, box or pen etc) even for a short time after having been removed from a trap/net?

If holding bats during the day until release the following evening, the ACEC advises:

-Cave roosting species must not be held in bat boxes and placed in the sun, to avoid potential for desiccation, due to low humidity and heat.

-Different species of bats must be held separately to avoid predation.

If capturing and holding fish, please describe what the fish will be held in, including whether the water is aerated.

Question 24. Transport

Describe here how animals will or may be transported – both the type of animal carriers used and type of vehicle (e.g., car or truck), preferably covered and air conditioned. Even if you don’t plan to transport animals back to a base camp, you need to provide details of how you would potentially transport an injured animal that needs to be taken to a veterinary hospital.

Question 25. List the procedures you have in place to deal with the type of emergencies listed below and others you are aware of, including emergency contacts in the field, e.g., contact number of local veterinary surgeon.

  • a) animals injured in traps or injured animals found during a survey
  • b) environmental e.g., bushfire, hailstorm
  • c) misadventure of researcher (e.g., illness, personal emergency). i.e., if traps have been set, how will the safety of animals be ensured.
  • d) other

Contingencies for a), b) and c) must be provided. If you have others you would like to describe, also add these here.

Question 26. What happens to the animals at the completion of the project?

Describe what happens to the animals when they are no longer needed in the project, most common is release near to the point of capture but there may be other fates as well.

Question 28. Voucher specimens

You must justify why you would collect a voucher specimen, what the benefit of this would be and what specimens you are likely to collect.

Question 29. Euthanasia

This question MUST be answered, regardless of whether or not you are capturing animals.

Only provide details of methods that you or your team would use and have experience using. It is acceptable to say you will take an injured animal to the closest veterinary hospital. If this is not possible due to the remoteness of the location, other methods and experience in using these must be provided. Please do not quote methods listed in guidelines or standard operating procedures that you or your team do not have experience using and would not use.

If you require further guidance, please contact secretary.acec@dpi.nsw.gov.au