ATTUNGA State Forest has been opened up to licensed hunters, but the forest’s small size and its many users have residents concerned about stray bullets.
Since October, restricted game hunting licence holders have been allowed to stalk game in the forest after the state government declared the forest a hunting zone.
Kate McLaren, who’s property backs onto the 858-hectare forest along with a handful of others, said it was a “major concern”.
The forest is “well utilised” on a “daily basis” by bush walkers, bird watchers, horse riders and motorbike riders.
“It’s used by so many people for other activities that don’t mix with hunting,” Ms McLaren said.
“To have guns going off in the forest is concerning to say the least, it puts them at the point of fear.”
She said the idea of driving through the forest to get to her property “with bullets in the air” was “pretty scary”.
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) said licence holders had to get written permission to hunt in Attunga State Forest.
A DPI spokesman said hunting was only permitted during daylight and on foot and required a printed copy of the approved permission slip. “The penalties for illegal hunting in NSW state forests include on the spot fines of $500, the seizure of equipment including motor vehicles and court imposed fines,” the spokesman said.
The Tamworth Field Archers’ range is located in the forest. Club president Kimble Sollars said he’d found a bullet-riddled cardboard box and a dead goat in the middle of the range.
“The size of the forest is the main concern – I'm surprised the government is allowed to do that without consulting us,” Mr Sollars said.
“We’ve had people in there bow hunting, saying they’re not doing anything wrong because it’s a state forest.”
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said residents or visitors with safety concerns should contact him.
“I will have no hesitation in taking their concerns to the Minister,” Mr Anderson said. “NSW allows for some legal hunting in state forests, but we must make sure that safety is a priority.”