NSW copies U.S.-style wildlife mismanagement

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2002:
 
SYDNEY, Australia–In the name of regulating hunting and
eradicating introduced species, the Labor government of New South
Wales, Australia, is positioned to pass a new Game Bill in
February 2002 which would repeal the suspension of duck hunting won
in 1995 by Green Party legislator Richard Jones, put hunters in
charge of implementing hunting policy, and exempt hunting from
humane laws.
Introduced in November 2001, the Game Bill appears to be
opposed by most and perhaps all humane groups in Australia, but is
eagerly sought by hunters and the NSW Farmers’ Association.
Modeled after typical U.S. state hunting statutes, “The Game
Bill will legalise hunting with bows and arrows, clubs, knives,
dogs, wire snares, or any other means except poison,” Animal
Liberation representative for introduced species Frankie Seymour
charged in an internationally distributed series of alerts.


“It will be virtually impossible to use the NSW Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals Act to prohibit or prosecute any act of cruelty
which hunters consider to be a normal part of hunting,” Seymour
continued. “A Game Council will be set up which must be chaired by a
nominee of a hunting organisation, and at least half the members
must be hunters. Through the Game Council, hunters will make their
own rules, police their own adherence to the rules, and decide
whether to cancel the licences of hunters caught breaching the rules.
“Game animals,” said Seymour, “will be defined as including
abandoned and mislocated animals. This means that straying or lost
dogs and cats, as well as pigs, goats, rabbits and foxes, will be
available for recreational shooting.”
The anticipated passage of the Game Bill coincides with the
January 2002 decision of Australian federal environment minister
David Kemp to increase the national kangaroo hunting quota from 5.5
million to 6.9 million, officially estimated at 12% of the total
population. Wildlife Protection Association of Australia president
Pat O’Brien said that this estimate would require that the official
total of 25 million kangaroos before 2001 more than doubled in only
two years.
Also in January, National Parks and Wildlife Service
officials reportedly welcomed forest fires that devastated Royal
National Park, near Sydney, as “a window of opportunity” to
exterminate an estimated 2,700 feral Rusa deer, descended from
specimens imported from Indonesia in either 1885 or 1907 (sources
conflict) to promote sport hunting.
As well as expanding the hunting of non-native species and
reopening duck hunting, the Game Bill would head off any attempt to
ban British-style fox and dingo hunting by authorizing hunting with
dogs on public land.
“This is likely to increase the feral dog population in NSW,”
said Seymour, noting the frequency with which dogs used in pack
hunting go astray. “Hunters’ dogs are the main source of feral dogs
in Australia,” Seymour claimed, “since there are not many other
domestic dogs who have the ability to survive in the wild. These
dogs will then themselves become targets for hunters.”
Confirmed London [U.K.] Sunday Telegraph correspondent Nick
Squires, from Sydney, “Hunters use breeds such as Rottweilers and
ridgebacks to chase wild pigs. Many of these dogs get lost and then
mate with dingoes. The crossbreed dogs are much bigger than normal
dingoes,” and fiercer.
In mid-January 2002, reported Frank Walker of the Sydney
Sun-Herald, “Police and rangers were called to rescue 16 teenagers
who were on a bush excursion,” when they were menaced at their
campground in Bago State Forest by an animal identified by expedition
leader Owen Fitzgerald as a hungry abandoned pig dog. Tumbaramba
senior constable Allan Graham said his team “had no choice but to
shoot the dog, who “was growling and clearly aggressive.”
Ironically, the Game Bill is promoted in part as a measure
to control the wild dog and dingo populations, blamed for killing
about 11,000 sheep in 1999 and 2000.
An NSW Farmers’ Association press release issued six days
after the association endorsed the Game Bill asserted that a December
2001 verdict by the Supreme Court of adjacent Victoria state, to
award damages to a farmer whose sheep were killed by wild dogs,
“sends a clear message to the NSW Government that it must control
wild dog attacks or face similar court action.”
Concern about feral dogs and dingoes has soared across
Australia since Clinton Gage, 9, was killed by dingoes at a
campground on Fraser Island, Queensland, in April 2001.
Twenty-eight dingoes were shot nearby, but on January 23 a Fraser
Island dingo bit a 26-year-old British woman.
British television researcher Sarah Challands, 28,
meanwhile sued the Queensland government in December 2001 over
injuries she suffered in a 1998 dingo attack on Fraser Island. The
dingo also injured her companion, Kim Richings, 27.
Thirteen-month-old Kasey Rowles was grabbed by a dingo at a nearby
camp site two weeks later, but was recovered with only minor
injuries.
Australian state governments formerly poisoned feral dogs and
dingoes with Compound 1080, but the poisoning programs have been
curtailed in recent years to protect endangered native marsupials,
including tiger quolls and Tasmanian devils, who ingest the same
baits. The poisoning also encouraged feral pigs to proliferate in
absence of feral dogs and dingos, who are their major predators.
Less attracted to the poisoned baits, the feral pigs often take over
marsupial burrows.
[Animal Liberation asks that e-mails about the Game Bill–the
only communications likely to arrive in time–be addressed to NSW
agriculture minister Richard Amery c/o
<mountdruitt@parliament.nsw.gov.au>, and NSW prime minister Robert
Carr c/o <bob.carr@www.nsw.gov.au>.]

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