Control of feral animals back in the hands of NPWS
On 4 July 2013, the NSW Government announced that a trial of the Supplementary Pest Control Program would commence in 12 national parks. After this trial, a report would be delivered to cabinet and further national parks on the original list of 75 may be considered for the program.
The details of controls and management reveal that campaign to stop amateur, recreational hunting in national parks has been won.
The trial program is fundamentally a professional hunting program and will be run entirely by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) staff. The program is back in the hands of the professionals who have always managed pest animals in NSW.
NPWS staff may bring in professional volunteers to help execute its professionally planned and managed programs, and such volunteers will have to go through the same training as NPWS staff. E.G: Undertake navigation training, species identification training, demonstrate competency etc.
Any pest eradication programs that NPWS staff utilise professional volunteers for will have one of two zones within it. There were previously three, and the third to be omitted was the ‘scary zone' that permitted amateurs to carry out unsupervised hunting at their own discretion.
The two zones that remain are Zone A and Zone B.
Zone A: Volunteers will be part of the NPWS team and working shoulder to shoulder with experienced NPWS staff.
Zone B: Experienced and trained volunteers are supervised by NPWS staff. This will include induction and daily safety briefings. Detailed reporting, data collection and debriefing requirements will also apply. Site specific shooting plans with detailed maps will direct operations, with these being approved by NPWS regional managers consistent with regional pest strategies.
National Park will be closed to the public when pest eradication programs are taking place as has always occurred when NPWS have managed these programs.
A new addition to the rules around pest animal control is that there will be no shooting activity by NPWS at all in any national park during school holidays.
No minors will be allowed to hunt in any national parks despite lobbying from the Shooters and Fishers Party.
Unions of National Parks and Wildlife Service feel that the safety concerns they raised during the inception of the program have been adequately addressed.
The campaign to stop amateur, recreational hunting in national parks has very much been won! The groups working on the campaign have committed to keeping a watch on the program and are now calling for:
Funds dedicated to the Game Council to be given to NPWS for strategic, integrated professional pest animal control programs, including further research into more humane methods of killing pest animals.
For the management and controls for pest animal programs in national parks to be also applied to our State Forests.
In addition to the announcement around the Supplementary Pest Control Program, on 4 July the government also announced it had disbanded the Game Council of NSW. This came after an independent review of the Game Council by Steve Dunn reported the many incompetencies of the Council and that it promoted poor governance.
For those who wish to see media and reports delivered from Ministers on 4 July, go to http://nohunting.wildwalks.com/program