Revisiting the past to secure our wildlife’s future

It has been more than two decades since a landmark gathering of scientists, landholders, academics and key stakeholders examined how to best manage Australia’s wildlife, with conservation the end goal. Next week, today’s top thinkers will revisit the lessons from the 1994 event to see how far we have come and explore new ways to protect our environment throughout Australia, New Zealand and beyond.

As feral cats destroy millions of native Australian animals every night, efficient feral and pest animal control remains paramount in preserving farms and national parks alike. Because of our commitment to conservation, the country’s peak shooting body, the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA), has thrown its support behind the 2016 Conservation through Sustainable Use of Wildlife Conference.

SSAA National Media Officer Kate Fantinel said the decision to come on board as major supporters of the landmark conference was a no-brainer, pointing to our recent commitment to join the Federal Government in its mission to protect threatened species and cull two million feral cats from the Australian landscape.

“The SSAA and our 180,000-plus members have a long and proud history of protecting Australia’s threatened species and native wildlife. Programs like SSAA Farmer Assist, which originally started in Queensland to connect shooters with farmers in need of a helping hand to control pest and feral animals, is just one of our successful conservation initiatives” she said.

But the SSAA is about more than just shooting.

“We are proud to host the biggest state-funded koala habitat restoration project ever undertaken in Queensland, at none other than our shooting range in Ipswich. More than 113,000 trees have been planted across 210 hectares, along with an additional 700 trees for the Moggill Koala Hospital” Ms Fantinel said.

“More broadly, our dedicated Conservation and Wildlife Management (CWM) branches play an integral role in the conservation space and were instrumental in culling more than 70,000 goats in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park as part of South Australia’s Operation Bounceback. This paved the way for the western quoll to be reintroduced and the resurgence of the yellow-footed rock wallaby.”

The SSAA Farmer Assist program will feature at the conference with program leader Matthew Godson presenting on the role of community involvement in conservation and pest management. With abstracts submitted from all over the world, delegates will hear from high-profile speakers including University of British Colombia’s Professor Anthony Sinclair, managing director of Wildlife Management International Professor Grahame Webb and Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust UK chief executive Teresa Dent.

The University of Queensland (UQ) will once again host the conference from August 30-September 1 at the Pullman Brisbane King George Square. UQ Associate Professor Peter Murray said the University is proud to host the conference as it is the only university that features a course on sustainable use.

“We hosted the first conference 21 years ago and with a number of the original speakers due to attend this time, it will be good to see what progress has been made. It is also an opportunity for the public to learn more about sustainable use, which is much more than about simply killing animals,” he said.

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