You've got to give the Shooter's Party in New South Wales some credit. Robert Brown, the MLC proposing an amendment to the Game and Feral Animal Control Act has agreed to speak at a public meeting on the Bill at Ku-ring-gai Town Hall next Tuesday night. The meeting, organised by the NSW Nature Conservation Council, is likely to be a tough gig for Mr Brown, looking at the advertisements and other speakers.
The proposed amendment essentially allows for three things: access to National Parks for hunters to shoot feral animals; participation by hunters in native animal culling operations and the establishment of live game reserves in New South Wales. The first two issues are more for other people to speak about than me as they really are a matter of making a judgment. The third issue involves more science and that's why our Cooperative Research Centre has made comment.
One of the risk factors involved in whether an animal becomes established as a feral species is how many times it is released. Live game reserves establish systematic release of animals that are not currently feral, markedly increasing the chance of wild populations becoming established. Under the proposed law, there are no penalties if released bird species, for example, escape the live game reserve. So the environment, farmers and taxpayers will cop the bill for cleanup down the track.
I understand that advocates of live game reserves in NSW say that this is simply making the State equal to other Australian jurisdictions. NSW landholders are supposedly at an economic disadvantage because they don't have the option of establishing a live game reserve. As one of the speakers at next week's meeting, I'll probably argue that this line of reasoning should be called the "lowest common denominator" argument. It will no doubt be an interesting evening.
Posted by Tony Peacock, founder of 'Feral Thoughts'