Government response takes hunters for granted

QUEENSLAND’S sport shooting fraternity has been ignored by the State Government after they arrogantly rejected a petition calling for a trial of conservation hunting in State Forests.

Started by Brisbane man Daniel Boniface and sponsored by Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto, the petition amassed more than 13,500 signatures before it was tabled in parliament in February.

But in her response to the petition on March 27, State Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the government “does not support recreational hunting in State forests and has no plans to open these areas for hunting as it is inconsistent with long standing management arrangements for State forests in Queensland”.

“The Department of Environment and Science, through the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service
and Partnerships (QPWS&P), has a duty of care to protect State forests and to ensure the safety
of tourists and visitors to these lands,” Ms Enoch wrote.

Mr Dametto said Ms Enoch’s response ignored the “overwhelming success of similar hunting schemes in New South Wales and Victoria”.

“For the minister to completely write off more than 13,500 signatories to this petition without even in engaging in a consultation process is short-sighted. Recreational hunters are quite a strong voice in Queensland and it is politically dangerous of her to have dismissed them,” he said.

“To reject this proposal under the guise of safety is quite frankly, the easy option. The minister is not acknowledging that there is a significant issue when it comes to pest management in these areas.

“The “lock it up and leave it” approach to State Forests taken by government has allowed feral animals to explode in population, wreaking havoc on the environment and our native wildlife. Allowing licensed hunters in to these areas on a significant scale would be an excellent solution to this problem.

“Ask any landowner who has property neighbouring a State Forest and they will tell you the government is their worst neighbour, whether it’s overgrown vegetation posing a fire risk or the spread of feral animals that ruin crops.”

In her response, Ms Enoch also mentioned Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Partnerships collaboration with the Sport Shooters’ Association of Australia’s (SSAA’s) Conservation and Wildlife Management Queensland division, which conducts pest animal management activities on properties owned by governments, private landowners and conservation groups.

But Mr Dametto said the petition was not trying to take away from the SSAA’s existing pest management program “that has achieved so much for sport shooters”.

“My support for the proposal in this petition has come out of a genuine calling from sport shooters from all walks of life,” he said.

“What we could be looking at is an opportunity for the SSAA to build on their existing program.”

Mr Dametto said the economic and tourism benefits of hunting in State Forests represented a “golden economic opportunity” for small towns throughout Queensland that the government was ignoring.

Nick Dametto MP