Accusations that licensed hunters are drunk, drugged and out of control are more blatant Greens spin that ignores the reality of legitimate figures showing overwhelming compliance by hunters.
Greens anti-hunting MLC David Shoebridge has made claims of a “culture of booze, drugs and reckless use of firearms” among hunters holding an R-licence, which shows “just how dangerous the growing gun and hunting culture is” in NSW.
He is attempting to discredit thousands of law-abiding hunters based on 10 incidents that occurred last year – not all involving alcohol, drugs or firearms.
Game Council figures show that only 12 hunters had licences suspended or cancelled during 2012, a period that saw 230,450 days of hunting on public and private land by R-licence holders.
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell dismissed the accusations, saying that in all professions and pastimes there would be a handful people who broke rules.
The most serious breach was a hunter driving in a state forest at night with a mid-range blood-alcohol level while his passenger fired out the window using a semi-automatic .22 fitted with a suppressor – breaking a number of laws.
There have been no serious accidents or injuries involving R-licensed hunters on public land.
Shoebridge also repeated his position that hunters are not adequately policed because the council has the equivalent of 4.2 compliance officers, but the Game Council pointed out that police also have authoritiy. As well as this, forestry workers and other people have been resonsible for reporting breaches by hunters.
“Since 2007, the Game Council has issued 71 penalty infringement notices and suspended or cancelled over 60 game hunting licences – there is no tolerance for illegal behaviour,” Game Council chairman John Mumford said.
He pointed out that the compliance rate by hunters was 99.99%.
Shoebridge has today produced a set of partly hypothetical figures to try to demonstrate that R-licence holders are guilty of over 23,000 breaches of laws and regulations each year as he continues to call for a suspension of hunting on public land.
He also implies the Game Council has sought to hide non-compliance details from the public, but the figures are included in the body’s annual reports.
“The Game Council has undertaken and enforced the law for hunting on declared public land at a level not seen in this state before its existence,” Mr Mumford said.