NSW public land hunting

New NSW hunting regulations now in force

Changes to New South Wales hunting regulations have now come into force, and it’s generally good news — or at least business as usual — for hunters in the Premier State.

One of the most positive changes is the removal of clauses relating to deer hunting, in particular removing the prohibition on using electronic devices such as callers to target deer while hunting on either public or private land. 

In an excellent move for accessibility and inclusion, motorised wheelchairs being used by a disabled person are no longer considered ‘motor vehicles’ and may be used by them to hunt throughout the entire public hunting area, not just roads.

However, the proposal to provide hunting licences to children under 12 years of age, which was strongly opposed by anti-hunting lobbyists, has not been included in the new regulations.

Many of the other changes seem to be distinctions without apparent differences for most of us, such as the prohibition on using chemical attractants or motor vehicles for hunting on public land and the requirement to provide a harvest return with 30 days of a public land hunt now forming part of the regulations rather than the written permission. 

In other words, those rules haven’t changed, just the place where they’re specified.

The NSW Game Licence Hunting Code Of Practice has been removed from the regulations and is now a standalone code; it has been given some minor revisions mainly for clarity and still remains a “mandatory and enforceable” condition of all NSW game hunting licences, with NSW DPI reminding hunters that the “nature, intent and legislative duties placed on hunters through the Hunter’s Code of Practice have not changed”.

In addition to refusing to issue a licence in the first place, DPI can now suspend or cancel the hunting licences of hunters doing the wrong thing, including if DPI deems they are no longer qualified to hold the licence, if they contravene any mandatory provision of the Hunting Code Of Practice, or are found guilty anywhere in Australia of an animal cruelty offence. 

The application of the “fit and proper test” will now apply to game hunting licences as well as shooting licences, a change that caused some disquiet in the hunting community because of the controversy surrounding the potentially subjective and punitive use of the clause.  

As part of the regulation tweaks, a Native Game Bird Management (Owner/Occupier) Licence is now only valid for a year. 

According to DPI, this “allows licensing and species allocation to occur simultaneously and will reduce red tape for agricultural landholders needing help to manage native game bird species”.

As you can see, most of the changes are fairly minor or don’t really change much from a hunter’s perspective, but there’s a summary of all the differences between the 2012 and 2022 regulations here: https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/1423910/comparison-table-gfac2012-v-gfac2022.pdf

Public submissions and consultation on the new regulations were open from 12 June to 14 July, and DPI say they “collected feedback from a wide range of voices interested in hunting legislation and therefore reflected the variety of views” which “identified some policy and implementation items that require further consideration and consultation”, although they haven’t gone into specifics on what those items might be at present.

For more information on NSW’s public land hunting programme and regulations, visit: https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/hunting




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Royce Wilson

Royce is something rare in Australia: A journalist who really likes guns. He has been interested in firearms as long as he can remember, and is particularly interested in military and police firearms from the 19th Century to the present. In addition to historical and collectible firearms, he is also a keen video gamer and has written for several major newspapers and websites on that subject.