Shooters may soon be able to hunt feral animals in national parks and conservation areas across the Upper Hunter.
Barrington Tops National Park and the Barrington Tops State Conversation Area has been listed this month as one of 79 parks and reserves under consideration for volunteer pest control across NSW.
A spokesperson for the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) said the state’s feral animal control program would be extended to allow licensed shooters to cull feral animals in selected national parks, albeit with restrictions.
“The government has made it clear this is not a recreational hunting program,” he said.
“This will be another technique to complement our existing strategic programs already underway.”
Shooters must have written permission from the Game Council of NSW, be licensed shooters and undertake adequate training and comply with national park access conditions before access will be granted.
“Culling of feral animals in our national parks occurs already,” the spokesperson said.
“In the Barrington Tops, feral animal numbers, like native animal numbers, fluctuate greatly according to the weather and rainfalls levels. There are more feral animals around at the moment because of recent rains.”
He said in May this year, NPWS staff shot 598 feral animals during a four-day aerial shooting operation in the Upper Hunter including 178 deer, 161 pigs, 254 goats, four foxes and one cat.
“This is a logical extension of an existing policy – a sensible measure to remove these pests which damage habitat, kill native animals, kill stock, rob stock of feed and damage crops across the state,” he said.
The state’s feral animal control program was also unlikely to negatively affect tourism.
“Pest management is a vital part of managing our parks for the environment and for visitors,” he said.
“Well-managed pest control programs are already underway in parks. It’s important we stress that visitor and staff safety is always the main priority when undertaking pest control in our parks ... and the areas of park where pest control is underway will be closed to the
public during the operation.”