Social advocacy site getup.org.au recently campaigned for donations to enable a full page ad to be published in the Sun-Herald newspaper raising awareness and support of the ‘No hunting in National Parks’ campaign.
The ad, published [on Sunday], lists a risk rating taken from a leaked risk assessment report as an important reason as to why the program should not proceed.
A steering committee, comprised of many stakeholder agencies, has been tasked to implement the supplementary pest control program in NSW national parks utilising Game Council licensed hunters.
The draft risk assessment has not been formally released by the committee, and was interpreted for the purposes of this campaign by those who must have no understanding of the risk assessment process.
A thorough risk assessment identifies all of the potential hazards that may affect a program, including the most extreme scenarios. Mitigating controls are then put in place and the hazard assessed again.
The unmitigated risk in the leaked assessment is ‘major’. The mitigated risk in the leaked assessment is ‘medium’, a rating that is on par with most outdoor activities.
Specific details of the program, including the risk assessment, have not been finalised and Game Council continues to work in partnership with other members on the steering committee.
Findings of a Game Council NSW research program, due to be released shortly, refute the claim made by the Invasive Species Council (a non-government advocacy group) that recreational hunters are an ineffective and unsafe resource in the battle against feral animal populations.
The NSW Government Invasive Species Plan 2008-2015, a product of government research programs, seeks to manage feral animals by supporting cooperative programs that use integrated management across all tenures and identifying opportunities to include appropriate land use change, commercial harvesting, hunting and fishing as part of management.
Other evidence based examples exist, demonstrating the valuable role that hunting plays in a coordinated approach to feral animal management.
The ad also makes statements referring to New Zealand and states that hunting in NZ National Parks commenced in 2010, however it was actually in the 1900s.
The ad also asserts that since 2010, four deaths have occurred in NZ National Parks, when in fact there have been no deaths since 2010 that have occurred in New Zealand National Parks.
The ad published does nothing to further the debate on hunting in National Parks and can be added to the piles of misinformation that have characterised the media attention on this issue.