Around 150 people attended a rally in Lismore on 27th June against the State Government's decision to allow recreational shooters to hunt feral animals in national parks (NPs), a decision legislated in the Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Act 2012 which was passed by both houses of the NSW Parliament on 21st June.
"These parks are used by over 4.1 million visitors a year, are important for local recreation and are essential mainstays of the tourism industry."
|Some of the protesters outside Thomas George's office. Photo: J Edwards
The rally was held in very wet conditions outside Thomas George's office in Lismore .The National Party's Thomas George is the MP for Lismore in the NSW Legislative Assembly. George and his National and Liberal Party colleagues - including local members the National Party's Geoff Provest (Tweed), Don Page (Ballina) and Chris Gulaptis (Clarence) voted for the deal with the Shooters and Fishers Party to allow recreational hunters into NSW National Parks.
Organisers Dailan Pugh and Ruth Rosenhek addressed the crowd. Other speakers included Lismore Councillor Dave Yarnell, ecologist David Milledge, Public Service Association Industrial Officer Geo Papas (representing National Parks rangers and park workers), Greens MP Cate Faehrmann, and representatives from the Northern Rivers Bushwalkers Club and local beekeepers.
|Greens MP Cate Faehrmann addressing the rally. Photo: J Edwards
George and other local MPs were invited to address the rally but declined. None of the local MPs were present. Mr George's response to Mr Pugh's request was read out but provided no new information about implementation of the government's plans.
Comments made by the speakers included reference to:
- The significance of the Northern Rivers as a biodiversity hotspot and the threat recreational shooters will pose to native fauna both because of disturbance to these species and the fact that many shooters have great difficulty in distinguishing between feral animals and native species.
- The failure of shooting as an effective mechanism for eradicating pest species.
- The danger that will be posed by these hunters to NP workers, to bushwalkers, to other park visitors and to those living adjacent to NPs.
- The impact on tourism as the NPs of the area attract a significant number of visitors from outside the area.
The Invasive Species Council provides a critique on the effectiveness of recreational hunters in eradicating pest species at www.invasives.org.au