Recreational hunting not the answer to feral animals

Imbil State Forest-image NPSR

A parliamentary petition calling for a Proposed 3-year trial of conservation hunting in Queensland State Forests raises significant  concerns as its' intent is for the hunting of feral 'game' and not focused on humanely managing feral animals for conservation outcomes. 

While the wide-ranging and cumulative impacts of feral animals on native wildlife, ecosystems and biodiversity are recognised and warrant an urgent and comprehensive response, the approach taken in this proposal is not supported by science nor evidence based research. 

Due to report by 17 September this year, the Senate Inquiry into the impact of feral deer, pigs and goats in Australia has heard evidence by the Invasive Species Council in their submission (submission 10 endorsed by 11 state and national organisations) demonstrating recreational hunting in the context (and guise) of feral species management is ineffective and, in many cases, actually exacerbates the problem and can create perverse outcomes.  References to the so-called 'success' of recreational hunting in NSW are dispelled in this fact sheet Recreational hunting NSW: claims v facts. While based on NSW, the findings are comparable and transferable to a Queensland State Forests situation. 

Queensland's state forests are set aside under the Forestry Act 1959 for a range of uses. Not only do these include logging (under regulated provisions) and apiary/bee-keeping for example, but offer a range of recreational and nature based experiences for tens of thousands of users.  Much of the forest estate supports diverse vegetation communities, habitat for many natives species, conservation values and important green, open space. A number of state forests in South-east Queensland have been identified as  part of the SEQ Forests Agreement for transition into National Park adding to the small but critical extent of Queensland's Protected Area estate.

There's no question Queensland (and Australia) must tackle threat abatement and the increasing impacts of invasive species. This can be pursued through improved resourcing from all levels of government, targeted research and stakeholder collaboration  for effective,  integrated feral species management based on science and clear, unbiased objectives.  The necessary and desirable outcomes won't be achieved by adopting the ill-conceived approach suggested in this petition.

The petition was tabled on 26 February with a response due from the responsible Minister by 28 March.  You can contact Environment Minister, the Hon Leanne Enoch MP (her portfolio has relevant jurisdiction for state forests) and let her know your thoughts on this issue given the push behind the petition.