The President of the AVA’s Conservation group, Geoff Dutton, has offered support for NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell’s decision to allow hunting in 79 of the state’s national parks, provided animal welfare is being carefully considered and a strict licensing system is imposed.
Under the changes, licensed shooters can apply to hunt feral animals including pigs, dogs, cats, goats and deer.
“I am sure that the premier has considered this move after consultation with many groups. Within the AVA as within the wider community, there are diverse opinions on the moral aspects of hunting,” he said.
“The AVA’s prime concern as should be for any veterinarian is for the welfare of the animals being hunted. I would therefore assume that the premier is taking this into consideration as this would be the main issue of concern.”
Dutton said the AVA supports the development of population management systems that reduce the necessity of hunting, but acknowledges there are instances in which there is a need to use firearms to cull feral animals.
“Culling of feral animals in areas is essential as many are destructive to the environment and compete for valuable resources that native animals need,” he said.
He added that culling by firearms can be done by Parks personnel, but they are often understaffed and have a number of other duties, making it difficult for them to carry out effective control measures.
“Another way is to use contract workers for the task but this costs a lot and funds are often not available,” he said.
“The other method is to allow licensed recreational hunters and under strict control hunt certain ‘feral’ species within an area. Therefore, if correctly carried out this may be a viable method of culling feral animals if there is no other alternative.”
Dutton said licenses should be introduced for specific areas and target animals after consultation with Parks staff and carers with quotas aligned with management plans.
“A fair share of the funds should then be returned to the Parks for them to continue any restoration within the park and where necessary provide facilities for other users of the parks.”
Premier O’Farrell said culling of feral animals by professional shooters has already occurred in national parks across the state.
Hunters will require permission and need to be licenced by the NSW Game Council.
The Premier said access conditions will be decided by Environment Minister Robyn Parker.