By Anita McInnes
WHILE an Upper House committee inquiry into the benefits or otherwise of adopting a regulated, licensed recreational hunting system in Western Australia is underway there is evidence unlicensed systems already exist.
Professional shooter Steve Pass said individuals or companies were already advertising hunting safaris where they say hunters can kill kangaroos and feral animals such as camels and goats.
Mr Pass said one company operating out of Toodyay and Gabyon Station in the Murchison were two he had seen advertised.
He said some property owners seemed to be making money out of allowing recreational hunters to shoot feral animals and kangaroos.
In June last year a Toodyay-based safari company owner was quoted in the West Australian as saying he had set up a contract with pastoralists where he paid them for the animals hunted and the accommodation used.
A Department of Lands spokesman said the legal requirements differed across animal species and land tenures.
But declared pests come under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 and the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Regulations 2013.
The spokesman said the Act was administered by the Department of Agriculture and Food and was the state’s principal legislation for the management of pests.
“All native fauna in the state is protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 and Wildlife Conservation Regulations 1970 – these are administered by the Department of Parks and Wildlife, ‘’ he said.
“Activities on Crown land may come under the Land Administration Act 1997, which is administered by the Department of Lands.’’
He said people carrying out such activities were also subject to obligations under other legislation such as the Animal Welfare Act or the Firearms Act.
“DoL is unable to comment strictly on whether these people are acting outside the law, because it depends on whether their activities fall within the provisions of the relevant legislation for the particular animal species and land-holding, and whether the necessary permits have been obtained for the respective activities.’’
In relation to an advertisement for a York property with cattle and crops, which said a reasonably unlimited number of hunters would be allowed and the possible game available was foxes, cats and rabbits, he said without knowing the specific details of the property it was not possible for the department to answer whether the operator was breaking the law as the answer would vary if the property was Crown land or freehold.
Mr Pass said Gabyon Station advertised at the Shooting Expo held on December 6-7 that hunters could kill kangaroos when they went to the station.
The Department of Lands spokesman said all native fauna were protected species under the Wildlife Conservation Act.
“With regard to kangaroos, certain species are declared pests under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act.’’
The Department of Parks and Wildlife said kangaroos were protected fauna under the Wildlife Conservation Act but there was an Open Season for red kangaroos in the Murchison.
A department spokeswoman said the Open Season notice had a number of restrictions including that red kangaroos could only be shot when they were causing damage, or could be reasonably expected to cause damage to primary production, or to control populations and rates of natural increase.
“Red kangaroos may be taken without licence only by landholders and leaseholders or their approved nominated agents, on land which they own or occupy which lies within the shires specified in the Open Season,’’ she said.
“It is illegal to take or dispose of red kangaroos, their carcasses or skins for commercial purposes, unless the person is the holder of an appropriate licence under the State’s Wildlife Conservation Regulations 1970.
“All shooting is to be carried out in accordance with the code of practice for the humane shooting of kangaroos.’’
Mr Pass is worried a Hunters and Fishers Party push to set up a licensed recreational hunting system in WA could lead to an increase in recreational shooters wanting access to state forests, national parks and conservation reserves where “you would have to be naïve to think they would only shoot foxes and rabbits’’.
“Tens of thousands of kangaroos are already shot to waste each year by recreational shooters,’’ he said.
“There are only 425 accredited professional shooters with less than 10 per cent shooting full time compared with 82,500 licensed WA firearm owners.’’
The Standing Committee on Public Administration, chaired by North Metropolitan MLC Liz Behjat, which has been conducting the inquiry into recreational hunting systems is due to report on Tuesday, March 10.
The committee includes East Metropolitan MLC Amber-Jade Sanderson.