Amateur hunters could soon have access to 85% of NSW's national parks, nature reserves and state conservation areas in a move that has dismayed leading environment groups.
Despite assurances by the NSW Premier that the Minister for the Environment will be in control, legislation tabled in Parliament to allow shooting in national parks will strip control from national park rangers and provide no safeguards for parks and park users.
Kevin Evans, CEO of the National Parks Association of NSW, said, “The Bill that opens up hunting our national parks, tabled by the Shooters party last Thursday, makes it clear who is in control – the hunters, not the national park rangers.”
“On 30 May the Premier said in a media release that the Minister for the Environment would have ultimate control over where, when and how volunteer pest shooting took place,” he said.
“The Premier also suggested that only 79 NPWS reserves would be available for hunting. Now we can see the Shooters Party Bill suggests that the deal between the government and the Shooters Party is vastly different to what the Premier pledged,” said Mr Evans.
“The public should have an opportunity to comment on the proposal. Park staff, visitors and lovers of nature were not consulted in any way before this drastic deal was made,” said Belinda Fairbrother, NSW Campaign Manager of The Wilderness Society.
“Premier O’Farrell must distance himself from the Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Bill 2012 if he is serious about protecting the rights of park visitors and overseeing an effective feral animal control program,” said Jeff Angel, Executive Director of the Total Environment Centre.
“This Bill attempts to recast some feral species, such as deer, as a ‘resource’ to be managed permanently for recreational shooting, rather than acknowledging that they are a serious environmental threat that need to be eradicated to protect our vulnerable ecosystems. This is the mindset adopted by the NSW Game Council, and it is completely inconsistent with conserving our natural environment,” said Pepe Clarke, CEO of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.
“This Bill clearly exposes that the Government’s talk of conservation outcomes is just greenwashing of a dirty political deal driven by the Shooters,” Mr Clarke said.