Monday, January 09, 2006

Hunting feral animals on public land

The New South Wales Government is planning to open four state forests for the hunting of feral animals, at first on a trial basis. According to the Daily Telegraph:
Recreational hunters using rifles, crossbows and dogs will be allowed to kill feral animals in state forests and on public lands in a controversial trial next month. Licensed huntsmen will be allowed to hunt feral cats, dogs, deer, goats, pigs and foxes after the State Government approved the two-day trial in four public locations from February 4. However, a declaration published in the NSW Government Gazette on Friday reveals the four state forests have already been designated as the first official, full-scale hunting grounds. The proposed order allows hunting for five years in these areas, with hundreds more to follow in March.

My understanding is that private operators already do some feral animal control on public land, but under close government supervision – quite different to opening the areas up for hunting.

This is an interesting one for environmental economics as it’s an example of harnessing private self-interest to further public goals.

It will be interesting to see the public response to this – in theory it could achieve important environmental objectives but it also raises animal welfare issues (will the animals be killed humanely?) and the idea of opening up public land to hunters is not one that would appeal to many environmentalists.

Green groups are suspicious and suggest that native animals are likely also to become targets. Some suggest that the plan will encourage hunters to deliberately stock public lands with young feral animals to hunt at a later stage. Other possible problems include danger to other users of these areas and environmental damage caused by hunters and their vehicles and hunting dogs. Apparently hunting dogs also escape and become destructive feral animals themselves.

What do you think? Is this plan a fox in wallaby’s clothing?


David Jeffery said...

It was always only going to be a matter of time before someone suggested this be extended to National Parks but it's come quicker than I would have thought:

A New South Wales Legislative Councillor wants the use of licensed hunters extended to national parks and wilderness areas, if a planned trial in state forests is successful.

See the full story here:
(and check out the stunning arithmetic!).

Ron said...

Why stop with feral pigs and goats? Let's extend it to the elimination of all feral animals - cattle, sheep, non-indigenous humans (although even they must have been feral once)?

Seriously, I don't understand the NSW govt. Do we really want our forests and parks full of bogans with guns, bows and hunting dogs? I had never heard of this 'Game Council' which is lobbying the govt with this hunting idea. Who in blazes are they?