THERE are few topics more divisive in country regions than hunting.
Farmers and graziers are typically proponents of it on the grounds of pest control, while animal welfare groups argue the practice is barbaric and unnecessary. The issue has again been thrust into the spotlight as Attunga State Forest is opened up to licensed hunters.
Residents and user groups rightly fear stray bullets could become a problem because the forest is so small.
The forest is home to bush walkers, bird watchers, horse riders, motorbike riders and other “activities that don’t mix with hunting”.
One local woman, whose property backs onto the 858-hectare forest, said “to have guns going off in the forest is concerning to say the least, it puts them at the point of fear”.
It is also alarming that a bullet-riddled cardboard box and a dead goat were allegedly found in the middle of the field archers’ range. It’s a legitimate concern that allowing hunting in a small area could compound the likelihood of a bullet going awry. It’s even more concerning that there are claims there was little or no consultation with residents or user groups before legalising hunting in this particular forest.
Since October, restricted game hunting licence holders have been allowed to stalk Attunga State Forest after the state government declared it a hunting zone.
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has assured those concerned that licence holders have to book written permission to hunt in the forest and are only permitted during daylight on foot.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson weighed in on the matter, insisting safety was a priority when it came to legal hunting.
It comes just weeks after the state government announced plans to scrap a license controlling the killing of native animals.
Wildlife advocates were furious, fearing the move would endanger native animals, including kangaroos, emus, wombats and cockatoos. But those in the agriculture industry, like the NSW Farmers Association, welcomed the plans to help control animals in plague proportions.
It’s easy to see both sides of the argument – and it’s difficult to find any middle ground.
The government will never completely please both parties when it comes to the matter of hunting, but it should continue to consult with residents, user groups and other stakeholders to ensure it makes the most informed decision possible.