The North East Forest Alliance has accused the NSW Game Council of undertaking a misinformation campaign targeting local governments, including Lismore Council, that are considering their positions in relation to amateur hunting in national parks.
NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh has accused the Game Council of acting as if it were a branch of the Shooters Party.
‘We welcome Lismore Council’s decision to oppose shooting in national parks, despite the efforts of the Game Council,’ Mr. Pugh said yesterday.
‘The Game Council is a publicly funded NSW statutory authority, subject to the control and direction of the minister for primary industries. It is outrageous for the Game Council to provide selective and erroneous information to local government and their minister, Katrina Hodgkinson, must pull them into line.
‘In 2010 the Game Council was described in the Sydney Morning Herald by its ex-CEO, David Dixon, as ‘a deeply flawed, quasi-public gift to the Shooters Party, compromised by hunting factions, jobs for hunters, dominant personalities and profound and unsolvable conflicts of interests’.
‘The Game Council is telling local government that hunting occurs in national parks in Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania. This is wrong as both Tasmania and South Australia prohibit recreational hunting in national parks. Some other conservation tenures, such as game reserves, allow game hunting, though even then feral animal control is undertaken by the land managers.
‘In Victoria, seasonal deer hunting for Sambar deer is allowed in parts of only four national parks, and game hunting for duck, quail and deer in a few other types of reserves. Hunting for feral animals is limited to the small and remote Lake Albacutya Park in the Wimmera, where it is not considered very successful.
‘Other Australian states do not allow feral animal control by amateur shooters in national parks because it is not an efficient or effective method of control, and puts other users at risk. Premier O’Farrell needs to reconsider his rash decision to allow amateur hunting in NSW’s national parks.
‘The Game Council also claims hunting safely occurs in New Zealand parks, though in 2010 a woman brushing her teeth in a popular bush camping ground was mistaken by a hunter for a deer or possum and shot dead. There have been 25 hunting related deaths in Australia in the past decade.
‘The Game Council has an annual budget of $3.8 million. While a third of this is funded by the licences, $2.5 million comes directly from NSW taxpayers.
‘The Game Council licenses amateur hunters to use firearms, dogs, and bows to hunt in 400 state forests and Crown land areas. In the 12 months to 30 April 2012 the Council estimated licensed hunters took 15,663 animals, mostly rabbits, from public land.
‘This represents a public expenditure of $159 per feral animal killed on public lands.
‘Despite the Game Council being established in 2002 there has not been any assessment of the effectiveness of recreational hunting in controlling feral animals in a single state forest.
‘Taking a few animals out of a population will have no significant impact, and can even be counterproductive to other control methods if it disperses pests or makes them more wary. Hunters have also been implicated in the spread of deer and feral pigs so that they can hunt closer to home.
‘There are already prioritised and systematic feral-animal control programs in place for our national parks. Diverting the limited resources available for feral animal control into running safaris for amateur shooters will make control far less effective and efficient.’