Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Shooting back in National Parks by March

Areas of the Murray Valley National Park will be open to hunters, under conditions.

January 9, 2013 7:58am

Jim Muirhead

Some local National Parks will be opened to hunters again by March.

NSW Shooters and Fishers Party Riverina branch chair Jim Muirhead says areas of the Murray Valley National Park, including the Millewa, Moira and Gulpa forests, will be available to hunters and known as the Murray Valley Sunset Nature Reserve.

The Werai Forest was not included in the reserve.

Mr Muirhead said he was ‘‘rapt’’ with the move, which he says will help control feral animal numbers and save taxpayer dollars.

The local forests are among 79 parks, reserves and conservation areas that are allowing hunting again.

Deniliquin’s parks have been closed to hunters since they were converted from state forests to National Parks in July 2010.

Mr Muirhead said there would be different restrictions on the re-opened parks, depending on their classification.

In parks with higher tourist numbers, hunting can only be done in the company of a park ranger, and the park would be specially closed for the hunt.

Mr Muirhead said in parks with less tourist numbers, similar to the Millewa forest, hunting would be allowed for a certain time period each year.

In remote parks with virtually no tourists, hunting will be open year round.

Local parks will have a combination of hunting seasons, from after Easter to before Christmas, and year-round hunting in different areas.

Mr Muirhead said shooters would be trained to identify what they shoot and to also use a backstop that will stop the bullet.

‘‘Safety is the most important part of it all,’’ he said.

‘‘We hunted these (forests) before they were national parks.

‘‘Just because the name’s changed doesn’t make any difference.’’

Mr Muirhead said hunts must be booked through the Game Council, as only a certain amount of hunters are allowed in at a time.

The council will keep track of who is in the forest and their car registration, he added.

Mr Muirhead said volunteer pest shooting has been working in state forests for years.

‘‘The amount of feral animals that have been killed in the state forest at no cost to the taxpayer is fairly significant,’’ he said.

He said professional shooters hired by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) would cost between $15,000 and $20,000 a day for a helicopter and shooter.

‘‘Why should you or I [as taxpayers] be paying $15,000 or $20,000 when I can go and I actually pay you, the taxpayer, an annual fee to do it?’’ he said.

He also said the wounding rate was high with professional shooters, while volunteer shooters on the ground would kill an animal more quickly and humanely.

Volunteer shooters will have to hold a restricted licence to be able to hunt.

‘‘They do a course and then they get this special licence,’’ Mr Muirhead said.

The changes are also expected to have an economic benefit.

Mr Muirhead said people who used to come for hunting spent money in towns near the forest — and they are expected to do so again.

The hunting decision comes just months before the results of a Public Lands Management Inquiry are released.

Mr Muirhead said it should set out management of National Parks, when released in April.

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