Latest Category D Firearm Regulations Hampering Feral Control


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Changes to category D licences have again been made without proper consultation with stakeholders, including organisations such as Local Land Services, the Department of Primary Industries, contract shooters and farmers.

Pest control for many farmers is an endless and expensive task, and the latest changes are hampering these control efforts.

In late 2020, a ban was placed on most category D firearms, limiting licence holders to only seven eligible weapons, six of which have not been manufactured in Australia for several decades. In addition, the appearance law changes have made perfectly functional firearms illegal to own and use.

The Land reported “Control of vertebrate pest animals is one of the only legitimate reasons licence holders can apply for a category D weapon and under the regulations, primary producers must belong to an authorised eradication campaign”.

“However, New England grazier Grant Prendergast said while some weapons were available to eligible licence holders, they were not fit for purpose to help control pest animals, which are enjoying perfect breeding conditions”.
“However, after that, bushfires and heavy rains came through, causing the landscape to change as regrowth really took off.

“For example, in mid-2021, we did an aerial shoot and shot 1754 pigs, 18 deer and some goats as well.

“About six months later, we conducted a smaller-scale shoot and our contractors shot 104 goats plus 43 pigs, and we put the drop in numbers down to not being able to see well enough from the air due to the regrowth because based on the numbers from the shoot before, we know there is plenty more out there.

“Why we need something like a category D firearm is because the pest numbers are just not manageable now.”

“Basically, I’ve been told these perfectly good firearms, which are available to those with the relevant licences in Queensland and Victoria, are not available to us because of appearance laws,” Mr Prendergast said.
NSW Shooters, Fishers and Farmers leader Robert Borsak said the regulations were “destroying the ability of professional shooters to keep their licences”.

“I think the current government is using excuses, because of military interchangeability of gun parts, to stop licence holders from modernising the equipment they are using,” Mr Borsak said.

“From what I can see, the government’s agenda is to shut down all category D ownership completely.

“The whole thing is messy and to me it boils down to the powers that be not wanting these firearms in the hands of anybody, let alone the people whose livelihoods depend on them.”

Victoria and Queensland have more workable rules relating to category D firearms. There aren’t heaps of people that use or need them, but they do have a role to play in helping to keep on top of feral pests.


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