Some of the 174 foxes taken by the Southern Riverina Hunters Club.

42 grand for 23 goats? Or 174 foxes for free?

Pro hunters were paid $42,000 to kill 23 goats, feral horses are destroying the High Country with impunity and a hunting club wiped out 174 foxes in a drive they did for free. What’s wrong with this picture?

Shooters & Fishers Party membership office Stephen Bowler sent through photos taken after the Southern Riverina Hunting Club conducted a fox drive that put a serious dent in one local fox population. It cost the community nothing; in fact, it put money into the community – all that cash the hunters spent on ammo, fuel, and whatever else they needed to do their thing.

At the same time, the major media is running stories about the huge problem wild horses have become in the Snowies, some pointing out that it is illegal for R-licensed conservation hunters to kill them; it’ll be the same when hunters are finally allowed into NSW national parks.

The anti-hunting National Parks Association (NPA) — a mob of amateurs, not an official part of the NPWS — is calling for the professionals to come in and do aerial culling under strict animal welfare guidelines. They reckon amateurs can’t be trusted, according to their rhetoric over hunting in national parks.

Funny, though, but the practice of aerial culling of horses was stopped some years ago after an outcry about wounded horses. Heli-shooting quietly started up again, as it should have, when the fuss died down but the bitter memory of it lingers for horse lovers, animal activists and the pro shooting industry.

Whether the pros are better shots than “amateurs” or not, there’s another side to it. A bunch of professional shooters from New Zealand have taken home $42,000 virtually gifted to them by the Victorian government, which hired them to cull a herd of about 60 feral goats. They got 23, plus a few pigs, and went home.

In that East Gippsland area, there were about as many goats as there are qualified SSAA members willing to go in and cull them for free. Parks Victoria didn’t want them. But Parks Victoria also claims the Kiwis’ cull was successful, and the NPA says the pros are the only way to go. The whole story is a purler, and I recommend you read the full assessment of the situation here.

Other parks in Victoria, as well as some in South Australia, have seen genuine success in wiping feral goat populations with significant help from so-called amateurs — hunters operating voluntarily as part of a controlled and organised series of shoots. Strewth, if the Southern Riverina hunters can kill 174 foxes on a casual drive, imagine what can be done with that many hunters under the direction of officials with a plan and a fraction of the resources $42,000 can buy.

All those East Gippsland goats would be gone, as well as a heap of other ferals. We’d get those Snowy Mountains horses sorted, too.

Instead, we have to watch government departments waste money, foreigners rake it in, the NPA look stupider and stupider and the ferals continue to boom as iconic country is degraded.

So what’s wrong with this picture? The unimaginative incompetents in positions of power and influence are failing Australia, while the credible and effective people are quietly going about their fox drives out of the spotlight.




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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.


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