Voluntary Hunting of Feral Animals in Our Parks

Congratulations John for a Very Well written Submission. I certainly hope it does a lot of Good. ron

Submission on Draft Regional Pest Management Strategy Part B: 2012-2015

Pesky Pigs That Won't Cause Any More Damage.

Pesky Pigs That Won't Cause Any More Damage.

By John Cummins
Mount Warrigal 2528 NSW

My submission will concern the humane control of feral animal pests and the protection of native animal and bird species from feral pests in our National Parks.

My first point of contention is the use by NPWS of sodium monofluoroacetate or as it is commonly known, 1080 poison in baiting programs. I understand cyanide poising with salt licks for deer is also being considered. Cyanide poising results in a terrible death for animals.
Death by 1080 is protracted and cruel. The Zoology Department at La Trobe University, Melbourne have said of 1080:
‘Animals can take up to four days to die from it.”
Animals poisoned with 1080 scream, vomit, defecate and suffer violent seizures. They die by final seizure who knows how long after ingestion of the poison. It is impossible to say the animal is not suffering and it is without question that 1080 poison inflicts great pain and suffering on affected animals. Aside from the physical pain endured over the many hours before death, the terror, fear and anxiety felt by these animals is unimaginable.

Doctors for Forests spokesperson Dr Frank Nicklason had this to say in the Illawarra Mercury Newspaper 10 January 2002,
‘1080 causes an horrific death and kills not only possums and wallabies but can also kill protected species such as bettongs, potoroos and wombats….also native birds which feed on poisoned carcasses’.

 A preliminary review of the use of 1080 by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) released on 23 May 2005 for public comment, shows without doubt that the dispersal of 1080 in ‘bait form’ presents a danger to non-target animals, and that the chemical is ‘easily leached from some materials by rain or even dew fall’.

 Non-target native species are as equally attracted to 1080 baits as the targeted animals. But its list of unintended victims does not end there, scavenging animals such as native rodents, goannas, magpies, kookaburras, crows, and currawongs are killed through secondary poisoning when they feed upon non-recovered carcasses.

It is claimed that native species cannot reach the 1080 bait in its original placement, however after the carnivorous feral animal has retrieved the poison, eaten it, and on many occasions vomited the bait up it can then be consumed by a native species and passed into the food chain.
Banned in most countries, 1080 is still used liberally throughout Australia to control so-called ‘pest’ species, and reduce ‘browsing damage’ caused by native animals on private land. 1080 has been banned in Brazil since 1982 and is banned in most states of the US.

1080 is primarily used to manage introduced species. However, this poison is an indiscriminate killer. Poison laid for rabbits is normally in the form of baited carrots and oats, but any other animal occupying a similar niche such as the kangaroo are just as likely to eat the poison. It has been estimated that baits laid for rabbits threaten a further 50-62 species.

1080 not only has devastating consequences for the animals who directly consume it, but it also affects the surrounding environment and its inhabitants. Scavengers and carnivores are killed through secondary poisoning when they feed upon non-recovered carcasses. Indeed 1080 spreads so thoroughly through an ecosystem that insectivorous birds have been killed in baited areas by eating insects that have fed on carcasses and poisoned food.

1080 is not a sustainable method of population control, and only temporarily removes the target animals from a given area. It also has no effect on the overall population of a pest species. The sudden removal of a group of feral pest animals along with the collateral damage to native species merely creates spaces that will quickly refill themselves with more feral animals as these are, by and large, much more territorially aggressive then native species.

Now I am not so naïve as to think that there is no place for the use of poisons in our National Parks and by private landholders however this use can be drastically reduced.
So what are the alternative methods of feral animal control in National Parks? Trapping and shooting immediately come to mind and are utilized by the NPWS. Trapping with a non injurious trap is ideal as if a native species is inadvertently captured it can be released however trapping is labor intensive and location specific.
That leaves shooting and for some reason there seems to be a barrier in NPWS thinking to allowing certified NSW Game Council R-License holders to eradicate feral animal pests in our National Parks.
I realize there are many excuses for this but very few valid reasons.

 Voluntary pest eradication by these ethical, well trained, and police licensed shooters in proscribed NSW State Forests has proven to be successful both safety wise and in the large reduction in feral animal numbers. This has allowed State Forests to re-allocate financial resources to areas other then feral animal pest control as the R-licensed hunters are volunteers. It has also put a lot more “eyes on the ground” to report on illegal activities such as drug plantations and poaching.

 I am a Game Council of NSW R-licensed hunter and also a member of the SSAA Hunting and Conservation branch. I undertake feral animal control for both organizations in NSW State forests and on private property eradicating feral pigs, feral goats, wild dogs, foxes, feral cats, rabbits and hare.
Both organizations require of participants high levels of ethical conduct when hunting feral and game animals. A particular virtue of hunting ethics is that the hunter has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. This conduct is dictated by his/her own conscience rather then a mob of onlookers.
Without exception the members of both organizations I have spoken with have very high ethical standards when dealing with all animals. To a person they abhor cruelty to any animal. Hunting ethics are voluntary personal restrictions and codes of behavior we place on our activities and we are strongly influenced by peer pressure.

I would suggest there is a much higher level of ethical behavior toward animals by these hunters when compared to an organisation or individual that uses 1080, or any other poison for that matter.
These words may sound harsh but I have observed a ring tailed possum that was poisoned and the suffering of this poor animal was horrific before it was euthanised by a vet. This left on me a lasting impression as you could imagine.

There is a very good article on hunting ethics by Dr Matt Draisma in the April-June issue of Guns & Game magazine, number 66. Unfortunately I couldn’t find this article online.
To become accredited with the SSAA Hunting and Conservation activity I, and all applicants, must prove marksmanship with a rifle from various shooting positions and varying distances. If a participant fails these tests then they fail accreditation with this organisation and cannot participate in feral animal pest control activities for the organisation.

So shooting accuracy is a part of the ethics of the pest controller volunteering to participate for both organizations. It is closely tied in with the ethical desire of not wanting the animal to suffer unduly because of poor shooting, either by inaccuracy, improper shot placement, taking the shot at too great a distance, or using an innapropriate caliber on the particular species of feral pest. A well aimed shot will not result in a lingering death for innocent native animals in the food chain. By that I mean the only animal killed by a trained and accredited hunter in feral pest management will be the one he aims at.
I believe it is a gross violation of our rights as lawful firearms owners for NPWS to prohibit the passage of legally secured and licensed firearms and ammunition through our national parks on public roads whilst on the way to private property or a State forest where hunting/shooting is legal.

In closing, I would strongly recommend that the NSW NPWS introduce the voluntary hunting of feral animal pests into our parks under the control of The Game Council of NSW as is currently carried out in proscribed NSW state forests. This would greatly alleviate the suffering of both feral animal pests and innocent native animals and birds from the effects of the indiscriminate use of poisons in our National Parks.

As stated in 6.1 NSW Invasive Species Plan:

“…many pests are already widely established in NSW, and eradication across large areas is not achievable with existing resources.”
There can be no argument that voluntary hunting of feral pest animals in our National Parks would allow the allocation of more financial resources to other areas of management and would also provide extra surveillance for illegal activities in our parks.

 Voluntary hunting of feral pest animals would also drastically reduce the need to use poisons such as 1080 in our parks and therefore save many of our native species from agonizing deaths.

 Thank you for taking the time to consider this submission.

Speak Your Mind