Feral animals in the sights

PERMISSION to shoot feral animals in state forests could be extended to 10 years under a new NSW State Government proposal – twice the period previously allowed.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson has published a notice in the government gazette allowing hunting in 142 state forests until June 2021, including North Coast forests in Grafton, Maclean and the Mount Belmore State Forest near Casino.

Hunting is already allowed in state forests areas around Woodburn, Casino, Kyogle and Tabulam.

However the previous gazetted period for hunting, approved by then primary industries minister, Ian Macdonald, was for five years.

The extended hunting period has been criticised by the NSW Greens who have suggested the new State Government is pandering to the Shooters and Fishers Party.

Greens MLC and Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham said there were alternatives to shooting such as trapping, citing a successful project to eradicate foxes through trapping in the Tyagarah Nature Reserve, which is also using cameras to monitor native species such as the endangered long-nose potoroo.

“Shooting feral animals is not the most productive method, and there is a significant public safety risk,” Ms Barham said.

“Native animals can get destroyed in the process, and on the North Coast we have an enormous number of endangered species.”

Northern Rivers branch president of the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, Don Chesworth, was not aware of the changes, but said: “Having hunters being able to remove feral animals at no cost to the Government has got to be an improvement.”

Local pig hunter Wayne Shepherd expressed scepticism at the idea of shooters going into state forests.

“You very rarely shoot a pig, and a bow wouldn’t get close to them,” he said.

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