Hunting and conservation – byo animals

Although it’s unlikely to result in anything more than a delay in implementing recreational hunting in selected National Parks, the NSW government’s decision to review the management of the NSW Games Council may provide the opportunity to highlight uncertainites about hunting in State Forests.

According to the OE&H’s Far South Coast Region Pest Management Strategy 2007-2010, Gulaga, Biamanga and Mimosa Rocks NP’s used to have wild dogs, foxes, rabbits and cats. Kooraban had the same, minus the rabbits.

However, according to the NSW Games Council and based on hunter reports Bodalla SF, from which Kooraban was excised, has rabbits, foxes, goats, pigs, deer, hares, cats and dogs. Bermagui has SF rabbits, foxes, pigs, cats and dogs: in Murrah SF rabbits, foxes, goats, pigs and cats, in Mumbulla, rabbits, foxes, deer and dogs and in Tanja just foxes.

All of the aforementioned ferals were introduced to Oz over a hundred years ago and in that time have found the areas that can support them. Apart from Gulaga, the Murrah soil landscape dominates all of these forests so hares and rabbits can be ruled out because there isn’t enough grass and the latter can’t dig burrows.

Similarly goats and pigs have not taken up residence in coastal forests, because the habitat is not suitable. Several species of deer have been introduced but only one, the Sambar, is known to inhabit local forests and I’ve seen one in the past 20 years. It seems either the hunter reports are highly inaccurate or the hunters introduce the ferals they want to hunt.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been spending mornings putting up the most time consuming bottom layer of rabbit netting along the southern edge of the exclosure area. Just over half the 2.2 km total length is now up and during that time I’ve seen two swamp wallabies, found some more old koala pellets and the Southern Rivers CMA has proposed their ‘Bega Biodiversity Fund Koori Work Crew Approach’.

According to a flowchart, that I understand was mistakenly released to some stakeholders, there are question marks against the participation of Forests NSW, Bega and Eurobodalla Shires, Roads and Maritime Services and the Wagonga Aboriginal Land Council but, the bigger issue would seem to be what biodiversity they are trying to protect and why the approach is yet to include the re-introduction of critical weight range species into the ‘Gulaga-Biamanga Landscape’.

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