The Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA) Inc is the largest sports shooting and recreational hunting community group in Australia. With more than 130,000 members, the SSAA is committed to providing hunter education and promoting ethical hunting practices. SSAA members are obliged to follow The Hunters Code – a code of practice that includes animal welfare considerations – during any activity, regardless of the status of the animal concerned. The SSAA, along with other hunting groups in Australia, have been active conservationists for more than 50 years, as demonstrated in the Conservation programs list in Table 1. The hunting community consider themselves to be custodians and stewards of our wildlife resources.
|Table 1: Conservation programs instigated by hunters throughout Australia|
|Wildlife sanctuaries||SSAA||Nation-wide||Wildlife protection areas and management programs||SSAA ranges are declared wildlife sanctuaries||1948|
|Wetlands and waterfowl||Field & Game||Victoria||Driving force behind the creation of the first state game reserve||Jack Smith Lake near Woodside||1959|
|Wetlands and waterfowl||Field & Game||Victoria||Instigated Australia’s first game licence and establishment of the Conservation Trust||Funds from trust lead to the part purchased of 180 state game reserves across Victoria||1959|
|Wetlands and waterfowl||Field & Game||Victoria||Identified 40 key habitat areas to become game reserves in its first year of operation||Various locations across Victoria||1960|
|Wetlands and waterfowl||Field & Game||Victoria||Restoration and rehabilitation of critical habitat||Hird Swamp, Kerang||1960|
|Wetlands and waterfowl||Field & Game||Victoria||Restoration and rehabilitation of critical habitat||Johnson Swamp, Kerang||1960|
|Wetlands and waterfowl||Field & Game||Victoria||Restoration and rehabilitation of critical habitat, water regulation||Dowds Morass, Gippsland||1966|
|Wetlands and waterfowl||Field & Game||Victoria||Restoration and rehabilitation of critical habitat||Hospital Swamp, Geelong||1982|
|Wetlands and waterfowl||Field & Game||South Australia||Restoration and rehabilitation of critical habitat||Loveday Swamp, Riverland||1984|
|Wetlands and waterfowl||Field & Game||South Australia||Restoration and rehabilitation of critical habitat||Noora Evaporation Basin, Riverland||1984|
|Wetlands and waterfowl||Field & Game||Victoria||Restoration and rehabilitation of critical habitat, carp exclusion||Reedy Lake, Geelong||1994|
|Wetlands and waterfowl||Field & Game||Victoria||Restoration and rehabilitation of critical habitat||Kanyapella Basin||1998|
|Land purchased for wildlife||SSAA||Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia||Wildlife protection areas and management programs||Various locations across the country||2002|
|Wetlands and waterfowl||Field & Game||Victoria||Land purchase, restoration and rehabilitation of critical habitat||Heart Morass, Gippsland||2006|
The model for assessing the relative humaneness of pest animal control methods, developed in conjunction with the RSPCA, highlights shooting to have the lowest overall welfare impact when compared to other pest animal management tools1. Not only is shooting a relatively humane method from an individual animal perspective, it is extremely target specific. Ethical hunting, as promoted by the SSAA, ensures that only head and heart/chest shots are taken to minimise the potential for unnecessary pain and suffering.
|Table 2: Pest animal management programs involving SSAA members|
|Bounceback||South Australia||Goats, foxes, cats||Wallabies||1992|
|National Parks & Wildlife South Australia, various activities||South Australia||Goats, foxes, cats, pigs||Native wildlife and habitat||1992|
|Property-based game management plans||Tasmania||Over abundant grazing animals||Habitat and pasture||1993|
|Stewartdale||Queensland||Goats, foxes, cats, pigs||Native wildlife, habitat||1998|
|Parks Victoria, various activities||Victoria||Goats, foxes, cats, birds, rabbits||Native wildlife, habitat||2002|
|Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service, various activities||Queensland||Goats, foxes, cats, pigs||Native wildlife and habitat||2007|
The SSAA continues to be involved in conservation-based wildlife management projects and strategies throughout Australia, as shown in Table 2. Just one small group of SSAA members based in South Australia have volunteered more than 16,000 hours and travelled 349,000km to undertake wildlife management and conservation activities in the past three-year period. In dollar terms, their contribution exceeds $544,000 for the same period. Recreational hunters are a legitimate tool of wildlife management, which is widely accepted around the world2.
1 Sharp, T & Saunders, G 2008, A model for assessing the relative humaneness of pest animal control methods, Australian Government, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra, ACT.
2 Organ, JF & Fritzell, EK 2000, ‘Trends in consumptive recreation and the wildlife profession’, Wildlife Society Bulletin, vol. 28, pp.780-789.
Acknowledgements to Field & Game Australia Inc for their contribution of information