Hunters are key assets in introduced species management

There is no one simple answer to controlling introduced species on private properties, public forests and parks across Australia. The Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA National) agrees that we must use all control methods available to address our introduced and native wildlife management issues. Such methods include fencing, baiting, trapping and selective shooting.

More than 80 per cent of the SSAA’s 130,000 members across the country voluntarily put their own time, money and resources into hunting. Members target key introduced species such as rabbits, foxes, feral cats, goats, dogs and pigs, which cause a variety of environmental and economic impacts in Australia.

Despite what some critics of hunting may say, the vast majority of hunters are not just after trophy hunting opportunities. None of the aforementioned species are seen as trophy species, but are the intended target of most hunters across the country. Introduced species control is not about trophy hunting; it’s about reducing the population to an acceptable and manageable level. This reduction is best achieved by a multifaceted approach including shooting, trapping and other control methods.

In an attempt to slur the character of hunters, critics often say that hunters enjoy killing animals. Most people wouldn’t ask an angler if they enjoyed killing the fish they have just caught. The hunter, like the angler, does gain satisfaction from the pursuit and successful result of their recreational activities. This adds to the enjoyment of being out in the great outdoors while doing something practical for conservation and being part of the solution to Australia’s introduced species problems.

SSAA National supports the involvement of its members in property based management actions where they help out farmers on the land. SSAA National also supports its members’ efforts in helping manage introduced species in public parks and reserves across the country. Since the success of Operation Bounceback in the re-establishment of yellow-footed rock wallaby populations in the Flinders Ranges National Park in the early 1990s, many programs involving volunteer hunters have resulted in real conservation benefits across the country.

SSAA National provides its members with unlimited skills and safety training opportunities. This allows its members to achieve marksmanship skills above that which is required by professional shooters. Why do the critics of volunteer hunters insist on using only paid shooters to undertake introduced species control when SSAA members can do the same job for free? It just makes no sense. It is much better to utilise a willing part of our community and use the money saved on other complementary actions to maximise results.

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