It’s game over for the Game Council of New South Wales (NSW), which has been abolished following a damning report from the NSW government.
The review was commissioned after the Game Council’s acting chief executive, Greg McFarland, was charged with illegal hunting and trespassing. Senior public servant Steve Dunn, who wrote the report, highlighted an array of issues within the council, from the worrisome – such as breaches of record keeping and privacy legislation – to the downright alarming, including council members who formed a “posse of gun wielding vigilantes”.
The Game Council was originally founded to develop plans for hunter safety and enforce compliance of licensed hunters. According to Dunn’s report, however, the council was “tallying carcasses” instead of worrying about public land access, education or other parts of its mandate.
News of the disbandment came shortly after the Game Council released figures showing that the number of shooters licensed to hunt “game” and “feral animals” on public land has increased 17-fold in the last seven years, from 958 licenses in 2006 to more than 16,000 today.
Even with the Game Council gone, this slaughter is likely to continue. The state government is putting both animals and park visitors in peril with its plan to open NSW National Parks to amateur and recreational hunters. From 2011 to 2012 alone, hunters killed more than 50,000 animals in these parks, including approximately 15,000 pigs, 34,000 goats, 1,000 wild dogs, 2,700 foxes, 240 cats and 670 deer.
No matter which government agency has oversight, shooting, poisoning, trapping and other forms of hunting are always cruel. These methods cause animals fear and distress and can result in painful, drawn-out deaths for those left to suffer with bullet wounds or their limbs mangled in the jaws of a trap. The NSW government should use the opportunity of the Game Council’s disbandment to investigate humane, long-term solutions for animal control, such as sterilisation.
Posted by Claire Fryer