The Invasive Species Council today released detailed information showing that the Game Council model’s for recreational hunting, due to be expanded into NSW national parks, is costly, ineffective and likely to have adverse outcomes.
“After a review of scientific advice on feral animal control and the record of the Game Council in NSW’s state forests since 2002, we have been unable to find any benefits from expanding recreational hunting into NSW national parks,” said Andrew Cox, Invasive Species Council president.
“There are some circumstances when recreational shooters can help with feral animal control, but the Game Council does not adopt these methods when licensing hunters on public land such as state forests.
“Skilled recreational shooters can make a useful contribution when they join professional control programs and supplement other more effective methods such as aerial shooting, and when they exert sustained pressure over small accessible areas such as on farms. Hunters have contributed to programs such as Operation Bounceback that targeted goats in South Australia.
“For a control program to reduce feral animal populations it needs to achieve a high annual rate 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.
“Hunters in state forests achieve nowhere near these levels and the Game Council program in state forests deliberately spreads shooting efforts to at most one hunter per 400 hectares, limiting hunting pressure.
“The Game Council claims that recreational hunters provide a cost-effective conservation service across 2 million hectares of state forests. But this is based on the biologically bogus premise that whenever hunters kill a feral animal they reduce the population and thereby reduce environmental harm.”
The claimed ‘free service’ offered by Game Council has in fact cost the NSW Government $14.5 million (to mid-2011), or $264 per animal killed in state forests. This public money would be better used for effective feral animal control programs.
Game Council licensed hunters are not required to undergo a shooting competency test, so there is no guarantee that they are skilled shooters. This has major welfare and human safety implications in national parks.
These and other facts undermine the alleged justifications for hunters being allowed into national parks.
Skilled recreation shooters can contribute to effective feral animal control in some limited cases, but this use of shooters would look radically different to the Game Council hunting program.
A Bill introduced by the Shooters Party, the Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Bill 2012, is set to be passed by Parliament this Thursday with the support of the O’Farrell Government.
Download the Invasive Species Council report ‘Recreational hunting NSW: claims v facts’. This fact sheet is endorsed by the Public Service Association of NSW and the Protected Area Workers Association of NSW.
Andrew Cox, Invasive Species Council President – 0438 588 040.