Hunting in NSW national parks will commence in a month with 12 parks and reserves opened to recreational hunters who will be under strict supervision.
The widely criticised Supplementary Pest Control program is now detailed on the Department of Environment website with Environment Minister Robyn Parker announcing the commencement date and the parks where the three-year trial program will be permitted.
* Cocopara Nature Reserve, near Griffith;
* Yathong Nature Reserve and Nombinnie Nature Reserve and State Conservation Area, near Cobar;
* Murrumbidgee Valley National Park and State Conservation Area, near Balranald;
* Goonoo National Park and State Conservation Area and Coolbaggie Nature Reserve, near Dubbo;
* Gundabooka National Park and State Conservation Area, near Bourke; and
* Woomargama National Park, near Albury.
“This trial will provide the first detailed scientific information on how volunteers can help reduce pest animals and protect native plants and animals,” Ms Parker said.
“Pest animals such as goats, pigs, deer and foxes cause damage to wildlife and agriculture and the NSW Government invests $38 million a year on pest control in national parks.
“Through a combination of trapping, baiting and shooting over the past two years, the National Parks and Wildlife Service has removed over 100,000 pest animals from national parks and reserves.”
Ms Parker went on to say that the program would operate in the same way as current NPWS pest control operations with the areas within the parks closed to other users during specific days.
No shooter under 18 would be allowed to take part and firearms will be restricted to the types currently used in the NPWS operations.
“Supplementary Pest Control operations will be planned at least four weeks in advance,” she said. “NPWS will provide final confirmation to neighbours and the public at least 48 hours ahead of any operation.”
The 30 day notification for the trial starts today, however the call for volunteers will be based on need and the advice of the NPWS.
The Natural Resources Commission will review the trial’s outcomes in 2016.
“This trial will utilise the expertise, skill and commitment of volunteers who have an equivalent skill and accreditation level to professional staff, under the supervision of the NPWS.
“It will be a true partnership between the community and the NPWS.”
But not a partnership with true hunters, according to the Shooters and Fishers Party, who publically slammed the model that is a far cry from their original request to extend state forest hunting into national parks.
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell agreed to the request as part of an agreement to support his proposal to privatise the state’s electricity, but after a massive scare campaign by the Greens and National Parks and Wildlife Service, applied a series of control measures including close hunter supervision.
In parliament recently, SFP MLC Robert Brown said the program was designed to fail and didn’t believe there would be enough interest from the hunting fraternity to make it work.
During debate on the Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Bill, he said, “I can say that most hunters I know – and I apologise to any National Parks and Wildlife Service personnel I am about to offend – would not allow themselves to be supervised by people to whom they would not hand their rifle.”