Not in our parks

o Idylic scene in National Park : Over 50, 000 people visited the National Parks in the Glen Innes region last year. Photo of Skye and John McKenny courtesy of the Glen Innes Visitors Information Centre, taken by Paul Matthews.
o Idylic scene in National Park : Over 50, 000 people visited the National Parks in the Glen Innes region last year. Photo of Skye and John McKenny courtesy of the Glen Innes Visitors Information Centre, taken by Paul Matthews.

NATIONAL Parks Rangers have rejected the NSW State Government’s motion to allow game hunting to shoot feral animals in the state’s National Parks.

The NSW Public Service Association, which represents park rangers, has directed its members not to assist with any activity involved with establishing recreational hunting in national parks in NSW.

Four national parks and state conservation areas near Glen Innes may be affected by the amendments.

The Gibraltar Range National Park, Gibraltar Nature Reserve and Butterleaf and Torrington Conservation areas are being considered for volunteer pest control.

National Parks in the Glen Innes region are extremely popular with travellers and locals alike.

The local office for Parks and Wildlife said that in excess of 50,000 people visited the national parks in this region last year.

As part of their rejection, rangers will be asked to withhold information and their expert advice from Minister for the Environment, Robyn Parker, as well as other ministers from the NSW Coalition Government.

As part of its deal to get power privatisation through parliament, the NSW Government last week allowed a Shooters Party push to allow licenced shooters to cull feral animals in 79 of the state’s 799 national parks, nature reserves and state conservation areas. Protection for native animals will remain in place.

Similar programs are already undertaken by professional shooters and parks staff, which saw 24,000 feral pigs, dogs, goats, rabbits and other animals killed in 2010-11, but rangers are unhappy with other shooters being able to load up in national parks.

But, the state government insists that any shooting of feral animals in NSW national parks will be strictly controlled, with hunters needing written permission and training before being allowed to hunt in national parks.

Under the proposed amendments to the Game and Feral Animal Control Act, volunteer shooters will not be allowed in parks near metropolitan areas, in wilderness areas or in world heritage areas.

NSW Public Service Association General Secretary, John Cahill,  said the good work and safety of NSW National Parks staff would be placed at risk by the State Government’s back- room deal for hunting in parks.

“Recreational shooting of pest animals in National Parks is an unproven, untested, expensive and unsafe activity,” Mr Cahill said.

“Opening the gate for recreational shooting of pest animals in 79 national parks and other conservation areas in NSW poses a serious risk to the safety of park rangers, visitors, wildlife and the environment.

“Our rangers should not have to work in fear for their own safety.

“Our members have expressed serious concerns about the danger to themselves and the community when shooting is allowed in bushland popular with walkers and picnickers.”

Mr Cahill said national parks rangers have been working hard to minimise the amount of feral animals in NSW’s parks.

“Recreational shooting will compromise the professional and scientifically proven feral animal control programs run by national parks staff, placing native plants and animals at risk,” he said.

“Industrial action like this is not a decision we take lightly but we simply cannot let the state government’s compromise of our national parks to go ahead.”