No Hunting in our National Parks

On 4 July 2013, the NSW Government announced that a trial recreational hunting program would commence October 2013 in 12 national parks. At the same time, the Government announced it had disbanded the Game Council of NSW.

The controls and management of the program reveal that the Government has responded significantly to the campaign opposing recreational hunting in national parks. What the Government will roll out is fundamentally a professional hunting program run by National Parks and Wildlife Service professionals. Such programs have been in operation for some time and professionally operated programs have always had the full support of the community.

To the many supporters of the "No Hunting in National Parks" campaign, we say thank you for your efforts on the ground and for standing up and speaking out.

A summary of the changes the NSW Government has brought to the original recreational hunting program are outlined here:

> A trial hunting program will commence in October 2013 in 12 national parks. These parks have not yet been identified. After this, the Government intends to assess whether or not it may roll this out into the 75 parks the Government was considering prior to 4 July 2013.

> No minors will be allowed to hunt in any national parks despite lobbying from the Shooters and Fishers Party.

> Programs that aim to manage pest animals will be run by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, not the Game Council.

> The National Parks and Wildlife Service may bring in volunteers to help execute its professionally planned and managed programs, however these volunteers will have to go through the same training as professionals and demonstrate their ability. Hunters will have to undertake navigation training and species identification training.

> As already occurs with professional programs run by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, parks will be closed to the public when hunting programs are taking place.

> There will be no shooting at all in any national park during school holidays.

> Bows and arrows, black powder muskets and pistols will be prohibited in national parks, despite lobbying from the Shooters and Fishers Party.

> The Game Council of NSW has been disbanded. I.E. The Shooters and Fishers Party no longer have a Government Statutory Authority working on their behalf.

> Amateur hunting in NSW forests has been temporarily suspended until the responsibilities of the Game Council are transferred over to the Department of Primary Industries. At 4 July 2013, no recreational hunting can occur on any public land in NSW until further notices from Government.

Read the media release from the Minister for Environment regarding the hunting program here:

Read the details of the hunting program here:

Read the independent review of the Game Council of NSW by Steve Dunn here:

Background to the campaign to stop hunting in national parks

On 27th June 2012, the NSW Coalition Government, the Shooters and Fishers Party and the Christian Democratic Party voted in changes to legislation that allows amateur, recreational hunting to occur in NSW National Parks.

The people of NSW were deeply disturbed by the idea of hunters with guns and children with bows and arrows roaming around our national parks. Our peaceful enjoyment of national parks and this kind of activity simply don't mix.

Families in particular were worried about the safety of their children playing freely in a public place where hunters may be present.

The NSW Government’s own risk assessment stated that the risk of injury or death from projectiles (bullets or arrows) is ‘major’.

The program that allows recreational hunting was set to commence in 75 of our national parks at some point during 2013. The NSW Government states that this program is about controlling pest animal populations in national parks.

There is no scientific evidence to show that recreational hunting in NSW has reduced the population of any pest animal species. Despite this, the government announced it would invest $19.1million dollars of taxpayers in the 'Supplementary Pest Control Program' over the next five years.

Opponents strongly believed that the hunting program, which was borne from a deal struck with the Shooters and Fishers Party, was designed to facilitate the sport of hunting on public land, and has little to do with conservation. No legislative changes were actually required to continue dealing with pest animal populations in NSW. Legislation already existed for integrated pest management programs to be carried out by professionals.

The announcement 4 July 2013 tells us that the NSW Government has responded to community concerns, ensuring the unpopular, unsafe and costly program proposed by the Shooters and Fishers Party did not get off the ground. The program that is in play, is run by professionals and only users hunters of a professional standard.

Again, the many organisations associated with this campaign cannot thank the community enough for their support that has helped create some great wins in terms of public and park staff safety, animal welfare and the environment.