The O’Farrell Government has done the dirtiest of deals with the Shooters & Fishers Party to allow recreational amateur hunters into our national parks, nature reserves and state conservation areas. Among the first 79 parks in the firing line are Macquarie Marshes, Kosciuszko, Nightcap & Barrington Tops.
So many conservationists over so many decades have fought tooth and nail for the declaration of national parks, reserves and state conservation areas for wildlife conservation. They did not do so to see them become play grounds for recreational hunting.
You can contact the Premier and NSW Upper House MPs below to express your outrage at the deal and this unforgiveable attack on the integrity of National Parks.
On 13 April 2011 Barry O’Farrell told the NSW public “there will not be a decision to turn our national parks into hunting reserves”. He lied. When he needed the Shooter & Fisher Party votes for electricity privatisation he sold out national parks and he sold out public safety.
The O’Farrell Government is trying to pretend the new policy is about feral animal control when they know amateur hunting is not an effective way to control feral animals. In fact, the recreational hunting lobby, fronted by the Game Council, actively campaigns against effective feral animal control. For example, the Game Council has opposed the listing of feral deer as a ‘pest species’ to be eradicated wanting them to be maintained as a ‘game animal’ for recreational hunting instead.
- Shooters MP Robert Borsak
On 19th July 2011 the Office of Environment and Heritage wrote to conservationists and said “Making national parks available for incompatible purposes like hunting threatens to undermine their value to existing users, including families and visitors to NSW….It is for these reasons that the NSW Government does not support hunting in national parks…..Where feral animals or native species need to be managed, for example, to mitigate damage to property or crops, regulatory provisions allow this to occur under strict controls”.
So, the Government knows full well this is a bad policy and they must not be allowed to get away with it.
Worse still, the Shooter’s legislation the O’Farrell passed though the parliament actually allows for hundreds of national parks to be added to be declared open to hunting. Of the 799 national parks and reserves in NSW only 48 have been expressly excluded from hunting in the legislation. The Premier says he has no intention of opening up more than the 79 he first announced, however, how can we trust him when only last year he said he wouldn’t turn any of our national parks into hunting reserves. Who knows what he will give away next time he needs the Shooters’ votes in parliament.
Letters to the Premier are needed to protest their deal, which will change the face of our National Parks forever. Use the email addresses below or the form at the bottom of this page.
Points you might like to include in your letters:
- Yes feral animals need to be controlled but amateur recreational hunting is not an effective way to do it (see below).
- Public safety will be put at risk. Provisions in the legislation to notify the public are poor. Ask whether you will be excluded from your favourite parks when hunting takes place and for how long.
- Animal welfare will be put at risk. There can be no assurances that amateur hunting will be humane.
- The conservation of threatened species and breeding birds will be put at risk. Consider that internationally important wetlands and havens for birdlife like Macquarie Marshes and Myall Lakes will be open to shooting.
- More than two million hectares of other public land, such as State Forests, are already accessible to hunters for their recreation.
- The Public Services Association, representing the rangers that work in National Parks, is opposing the deal. They are worried about the safety of park rangers and the additional burden rangers will have to cope with to manage amateur hunters.
Why recreational hunting is not an effective way to control feral animals:
- Feral animal control requires well-designed, sustained, targeted and humane eradication strategies. No mainstream conservation organisation supports recreational hunting for feral animal control. Even the Invasive Species Council, which campaigns specifically for effective feral animal control, rejects recreational hunting in National Parks because evidence shows that recreational ground hunting usually does not provide effective feral animal control and creates a serious risk of worsening feral animal problems.
- Government codes of practice specify that ground shooting is ineffective to control most feral animals including foxes, pigs, goats and rabbits. This is because amateur recreational hunters are unable to kill feral animals in significant enough numbers. For a control program to reduce feral animal populations it needs to achieve a high annual rate of animals killed to exceed their natural rate of increase. For example, cat control may require more than 57% of a population to be killed and fox control more than 65%. For the rusa deer found from Royal National park to the NSW south coast, a 46% kill rate each year may be needed.
- The Invasive Species Council has compiled statistics which show the number of feral animals killed by hunters between 2006 and 2008 amounted to less than two feral animals on average per licenced hunter and less than one animal killed per hunting day. Such trivial hunting rates contrast poorly with existing strategies such as aerial shooting where hundreds of animals are killed within hours, and will not assist genuine feral animal control in national parks.
- Ad hoc recreational hunting can be counter productive to feral animal control. It can scare feral animals into new areas, make them increasingly wary to the efforts of professional shooters and can even increase localised feral animal breeding rates. For example, shooting low numbers of foxes can be futile because most young foxes do not live long unless an adult fox dies creating a vacancy for them to occupy. Shooting the occasional fox creates that vacancy! In most cases, killing one feral animal means that another will survive to take its place and population reduction is not achieved.
- There are even well-founded suspicions that recreational hunters have introduced new feral animal populations to areas to create hunting opportunities. Researchers have found that “more than half the 218 feral deer herds in Australia identified in 2000 appear to have been derived from illegally translocated deer, presumably to create more hunting opportunities (there is no other likely explanation)” (Moriaty, A. 2004 The Liberation, Distribution, Abundance and Management of Wild Deer In Australia. wildlife Research 31: 291-99). The Game Council, the statutory body that represents recreational hunters does not support the listing of feral deer as a pest species for eradication. Instead they want deer classified as a game animal and promote a hunting strategy that would see healthy numbers of deer maintained.
Send a personal email or use the form below. Thank you. Together we need to fight this dirty deal with the Shooters & Fishers Party. Our National Parks are too important.