Media release: National Parks Association of NSW
"Doubts proposed Bill will address concerns around hunting"
After a strong campaign from the people of NSW against hunting in national parks, a Bill tabled last week to amend related legislation may fall dramatically short of dealing with their concerns.
"The Game and Feral Animal Control Act Amendment Bill 2013 will soon be debated in Parliament. It provides the Government an opportunity to show it can be completely trusted on the issue of hunting in national parks, and is serious about dealing with feral animal populations," says Justin McKee, Campaign Coordinator of the National Parks Association of NSW.
"To date, we have received no assurance from Government that changes to the Game and Feral Animal Control Act will be anything more than tokenistic.
"Issues raised very strongly by the public on the issue of hunting in national parks included risks to park staff and visitor safety, impacts on tourism and threats to native animals; all of which were confirmed by the Government's own risk assessments.
"Community concerns were appeased when the NSW Government delivered details of its Supplementary Pest Control Program on 4 July 2013, promising among other things, that only those with professional skills would be involved in work to control pest animals.
"If the NSW Government proposes a Bill that does not lock in what it offered up in July, it is clear that once again, the Government cannot be trusted on this issue.
"Changes to the Game and Feral Animal Control Act must definitively rule out using unsupervised amateur hunting in National Parks, and this should also extend to State Forests where the new national parks Supplementary Pest Control Program should also apply.
"There is no disagreement that ad hoc, recreational hunting has had no impact on feral animals populations. Any amendment of the Legislation must seek to change the objectives of the Act from 'management of game' to 'control and impact on feral animal populations'.
"The new amendments should also remove deer and a list of native birds from the Act if the Government is going to take impacting feral populations seriously. Deer are a major feral pest and should be listed as such and not to be ‘managed as game' by recreational hunters who keep populations in tact for sport.
"Investing serious dollars in professional, integrated pest animal control programs will reap serious rewards for the community, including farmers. The Government must step up to the plate and invest in solutions," concludes Mr McKee.
The National Parks Association has put the government on notice it will reignite its public campaign at full force if proposed changes in the Bill do not reflect what the public was promised 4 July 2013.
Media contact: Justin McKee 0404 824 020