Since May 2009, Robert Brown MP of the Shooters Party has been pushing for the Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Bill 2009 to be passed into legislation in New South Wales, Australia. The spin of this Bill is so feral animals can be controlled in National Parks. But in reality the proposed changes would mean the following main changes:
- Many of Australia’s native fauna across NSW would be condemned as ‘game animals’ just like in colonial times, when Australian native animals were despised as ‘vermin’. Other native animals can be included in the shooters hit list so long as there is consultation with the Minister for National Parks (DECC).
- It would be lawful for sporting shooters to hunt and shoot native fauna in all National Parks, State Forests, Crown Land and ‘private game reserves’ across NSW. Killing wildlife is to be branded as ‘conservation hunting’ and basically would be permissible through most natural landscapes outside built up areas.
- The Game Council of NSW, which is a government body dominated by members of shooting and hunting clubs, and it would assume authority for granting shooting licences in National Parks.
- Shooters and hunters in National Parks would be immune from protesters trying to protect native animals and birds – as it would become “an offence to approach persons (within 10 metres) who are lawfully hunting on declared public hunting land, or to interfere with persons lawfully hunting game animals”.
- Any environmental protection legislation that impedes shooting and hunting of native animals is to be overriden by the new changes – such as under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.
- Hunting of native game animals can be done by non-commercial shooters – i.e weekend sports shooters. Using spot lights is optional and it is ok to leave the dead, dying and injured prey where they fall.
- In the case of native waterfowl, licensed game hunters will be required to pass an official identification test of native waterfowl. The record of shooters killing protected bird species is woeful, yet the proposed legislation won’t make any difference.
.(Source: New South Wales Legislative Council, Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Bill 2009, Second Reading in Parliament)
Professional safari hunters, recreational hunters, sports shooters, or weekend warriors?
This Bill would overturn all environmental legislation protecting our remaining wildlife in NSW. It is repugnant. This proposal is nothing to do with noble gesture of taking on the task of the government’s culling feral animals in National Parks.
The Game Council in this self-interested set of demands, simply wants to give its weekend warrior member base open slather access to shoot almost anything and everything in the bush. It would be 24/7 open season on wildlife perpetually across NSW every day of the year. Every weekend would be weekend warrior party time in the ute with the spotties and the beers and the guns – just like in the good old days eh? In doing so, The Game Council and the Shooters Party have shown their true colours. The Game Council’s objective is to provide for the effective management of ‘introduced species’ of game animals. By advocating the hunting and shooting of native animals and birds is outside its ‘introduced species’ charter.
According to Greens MP Ian Cohen, if feral animals are to be culled then:
“it should be managed by trained Livestock Health and Protection Authority officers.” “Recreational hunters are not helping when it comes to feral species – the reality is that hunters, with their dogs, are often a cause of pest species dispersal, driving feral animals into national parks.”
Fortunately, NSW Cabinet yesterday backed away from supporting the Bill.
‘Ivan Milat was a licensed competition shooter. In police interviews he referred to a shooting range in the Belangalo State Forest he knew well.‘. (Source: ^http://www.abc.net.au/austory/content/2004/s1239470.htm)
Milat was probably a member of a local shooting club, perhaps the Bowral Pistol Club situated in the Belangalo State Forest or with the Southern Highlands Rifle Club. As such, Milat would have been eligible to have been one of the licensed shooters/hunters under this Bill before being convicted of his crimes. This example of a licensed competition shooter does not engender public confidence in the shooting and hunting fraternity to be trusted to self-regulate itself and attract law abiding citizens and carte blache access to National Parks for shooting!
Exclude all native animals as ‘game’ and prohibit the use of dogs in all hunting and shooting and you will have me starting to listen to proposals by The Shooters Party to control feral animals. But as for controlling feral animals in National Parks in NSW, this is an ecological management matter for DECC to be held accountable for.
To be genuine about feral control, this Bill must specifically exclude:
- Native animals
- National Parks
- Recreational shooters
The intent then of The Shooters Party to help control ferals will starts becoming more genuine.
- If the Bill is one of targeting ferals, why does it include native animals in National Parks?
- If the Bill is one of targeting ferals, why is it limited to shooting and not other control means?
- Why are the government authorities most qualified to control feral animals not granted the delegated responsibility for this Bill?
- Where in this Bill does it specify controls on the time of day that shooting can take place? (i.e. it is 24/7)
- Where in this Bill does it specify how shooting is to be independently policed? It doesn’t.
- Where in this Bill does it specify that only qualified marksman trained in species identification will be permitted to engage in feral hunting in national parks? Why are recreational hunters permitted without the high standards of marksmanship and species recognition training?
- Where in the Bill are inexperienced recreational hunters prohibited from such shooting? These are the ‘weekend warriors’ that give the contract professionals a bad name, yet the The Game Council is not going out of its way to distinguish these two extremes.
- Who will be monitor, police and breath test the shooters?
- Who will watchdog those monitoring the shooters to ensure that all legal, environmental and ethical standards are properly complied with?
Under The (NSW) Fireams Act 1996 Part 2, Division 1, Clause 10 ‘Applications for Licences, all that is required to be granted a firearms licence is:
- Be over 18
- Show proof of ID
- Be someone who has not been convicted of an offence within the past 10 years
- Not subject to an apprehended violence order
- Not subject to a good behaviour bond
- Not deemed not a risk to public safety
- Pay the license fee.
Convicted backbacker murderer, Ivan Milat, was a legally licenced shooter and got through these stringent ‘elite’ tests and he owned multiple longarm firearms.
How does this reflect upon the test standards for firearm owners?
Since 18 August 2008, the Firearms Amendment Act 2008 has required unlicenced persons seeking a licence for longarms undertake and pass an approved Firearms Safety Qualification (Long-arms) Course. This is admittedly a step in the right direction.
(Source: NSW Shooting Centre)
Lack of professional controls for shooters
Under Firearms Regulation 2006 (NSW) clause 28 ‘Recreational hunting/vermin control—persons who are not members of approved hunting clubs’, an applicant can obtain a firearm licence without being a member of an approved hunting club in order to engage in recreational hunting/vermin control so long as they obtain and hold written proof of permission to shoot on rural land by the landholder which must describe the land to which the permission relates and the type of game to be shot.
But there is nothing in the legislation to enable a firearm holder to have a licence suspended or revoked as a result of shooting protected wildlife.
The NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, not the Game Council should be the prescribed authority for all vertebrate pest animal control.
Poor Species identification training
It is quite obvious that a feral animal is not synonymous with a native animal. One would hope that a shooter can distinguish a rabbit from a wombat, but what training exists to ensure natives are not mistakenly shot. Where is the policing to ensure that natives are not shot intentionally?
Surely, this conjured term is oxymoronic spin. Instead, the designation ‘professional contract shooter‘ needs to be distinguished from ‘recreational shooter‘. If this Bill is to genuinely seek a professional approach to feral animal control it must specifically exclude recreational shooters and the weekend warrior element.
‘Ancestral & cultural right to hunt’?
The loose premise of some “ancestral & cultural right to hunt” – may apply to traditional Aborigines using traditional methods on traditional lands away from populated areas, but to quote the Game Council’s NSW Hunter eduication Handbook.. “in today’s world, hunting is no longer a necessity for most of us, but is something we are never the less driven to the associations with our past.” (p4.1.5). So this rather dubious argument says hunting is justified by some nostalgic notion of being connected to early colonists.
Airguns to teens are a catalysts for psychopaths. The book ‘Sins of the Brother: The Definitive Story of Ivan Milat and the Backpacker Murders‘ is an eye opener into a case of a hard rural lifestyle controlled by hardline paternal corporal punishment, when guns are part of life and temper tolerated.Publisher: ^http://www.panmacmillan.com.au/
“Guns are power” as confirmed by Ivan Milat’s brother Boris. Untempered power leads to consequences only limited to the discretion of the person in control.
Gun laws in Australia fuel criminal opportunity, yet gun laws don’t test for criminality. A cocktail of a gun acceptance culture, killing of animals from an early age, an insular rural upbringing, a penchant for control, an uncontrolled aggression, and opportunity are a recipe for incubating deviancy and how Ivan Milats and Martin Bryants are made. Milat’s upbringing featured a tolerance of incest, which fueled sexual depravity.
It starts with children being given airguns (or similar). Airguns inculcate shooting living things as acceptable.
.Kangaroo survives arrow shot through head
‘A kangaroo survived for about a week after being shot through the head with an arrow, wildlife officials said, and is expected to make a full recovery. Wildlife Australia has posted a A$10,000 dollar (£5,032) reward to find the person responsible for shooting the kangaroo, which was found in parkland near Melbourne’s outer suburbs on Thursday.
Veterinary surgeons from Melbourne Zoo operated on the stricken animal over the weekend and were optimistic about his chances.
“This was a big injury, but because the arrow didn’t seem to have been in there for a long time, and the injury was fresh, hopefully he’ll be okay,” said Michael Lynch, a vet at Melbourne Zoo.
“I’m cautiously optimistic about the kangaroo’s prospects for a full recovery.”
The marsupial was rescued just days after another kangaroo was found with an arrow in its rump in the same location, said Fiona Corke, a Wildlife Victoria spokesman. She said her organisation wanted to catch those responsible.
“It’s just unbelievable, I just can’t believe that anybody would do something so cruel. It must be a very cold-hearted person to do that,” she told national news agency AAP.
Miss Corke said the kangaroo was believed to have survived for up to a week before it was discovered and taken to an animal hospital.
.(Source: ‘Kangaroo survives arrow shot through head‘, Telegraph (UK), 20090511, ^http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/5309242/Kangaroo-survives-arrow-shot-through-head.html)