Taking threatened species seriously

Vital discussions are continuing with the Federal Government about how to manage and protect our nation’s threatened species with the SSAA identified as key stakeholders. The Environment Department and its Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews are championing strategies to protect our native wildlife, with the recently re-elected Coalition Government showing its continued commitment to this all-important cause.

Commissioner Gregory Andrews, who works closely with newly appointed Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg, exists to drive conservation efforts at a national level. His key focus is addressing the growing number of native flora and fauna in Australia facing extinction.

Former Environment Minister Greg Hunt announced the appointment of Mr Andrews as Australia’s first Threatened Species Commissioner on July 2, 2014. Since then, the Commissioner has worked openly and closely with the community, including the SSAA, industry, scientists and all levels of government, to find solutions to counter the demise of Australia’s native species. Consultation with such groups helped form the Threatened Species Strategy, which includes a plan and tangible target to save identified threatened species by 2020.

Recently, the Commissioner has been spruiking the National Feral Cat Control Survey, following acknowledgement by the Federal Government that feral cats are killing two million native species every night in Australia. Other feral cat initiatives include making Tasmania’s Bruny Island, home to the eastern quoll, swift parrot, hooded plover and many other native species, feral cat-free by 2020.

Commissioner Andrews enthusiastically threw his support behind the western quoll reintroduction in South Australia, which saw our hunters pave the way for their safe arrival in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges after removing more than 70,000 feral goats. The Commissioner publically praised the SSAA’s efforts, saying: “I commend the Sporting Shooters Association for being such a strong supporter of Operation Bounceback since it began, and I would love to see more partnerships like this working to protect our unique threatened species.” SSAA National gifted $60,000 to the worthwhile cause.

The Commissioner has also acknowledged the role of hunting in safeguarding native wildlife and managing feral and pest animals, in an exclusive story written for our popular Australian Shooter magazine.

But some cannot and will not understand that conservation and wildlife management methods such as hunting is a necessary part of the solution. Commissioner Andrews has attracted his fair share of criticism for his vocal comments about the reality of the situation and support for feral cat hunting on social media, with well-financed animal rights groups actively hijacking the online debate. As such, the SSAA encourages our members to show their support for the Commissioner by following our advice for navigating the social media minefield.

Head to the Threatened Species Facebook page to get involved in the debate about his efforts to date. Points you may like to elaborate on include the damage feral and pest animals are causing, whether it be cats, wild dogs or pigs, along with supporting the Commissioner in his important role of raising awareness about the demise of our threatened species at a national level.

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