Conservation & Wildlife Management Branches
Within the SSAA, there are groups of shooters dedicated to the preservation of native Australian species. Conservation & Wildlife Management branch members use their shooting skills to assist in the conservation of native animals and the management or eradication of feral species.
In order to participate in these activities, certain skills such as shot accuracy must be demonstrated. An accreditation program consisting of map reading, navigation, firearm safety and handling, wildlife appreciation and management, living in the field, ethical hunting and first-aid courses must also be passed.
Conservation & Wildlife Management (C&WM) branches are involved in ongoing feral animal campaigns in national parks for the benefit of native animals and plants. This is either through direct participation or in an advisory role in conservation projects. These activities are carried out in conjunction with government agencies, local governments and like-minded conservation groups. Organised culls on feral cats, donkeys, foxes, goats, rabbits and pigs have taken place in the Simpson Desert, the Flinders and Gammon Ranges in South Australia, Gregory National Park in the Northern Territory, Pilliga, Wagga Wagga, Hillston and Ivanhoe in New South Wales, the Murray Sunset region in Victoria and various places in Queensland.
These hunting groups provide vital services that help maintain the fragile balance of the Australian ecosystem. Members perform a variety of tasks including controlling feral animals, collecting data, assisting landholders in checking fences, dams and stock, managing vegetation, assisting with native animal surveys and counts and maintaining ecological communities.
Members of the state groups are SSAA members from all walks of life who want to actively contribute to conservation. They are volunteers who hold the appropriate firearms licences and are willing to undergo training and accreditation in firearm safety, marksmanship, animal control and welfare, and field operations concerning safety, navigation and teamwork. The members use their own equipment and support the program by fundraising. They are also insured for up to $20 million.
When the SSAA Hunting and Conservation Branch of South Australia was established, it was primarily a feral pest control program, but it has evolved into a land management organisation.
There are a number of C&WM branches around Australia that SSAA members can become involved with:
C&WM programs are designed to be a self-sufficient community service to the government, landowners and managers. They are not dependent upon government funding. C&WM is a totally volunteer organisation.
- Identify, maintain, protect and restore biotic communities;
- Work with private and government departments and land managers to identify causes of degradation and imbalances;
- Define program goals;
- Create plans for effective removal of feral animals;
- Monitor responses of organised culls and record appropriate data;
- Establish maintenance programs;
- Provide members with additional hunting opportunities through feral pest control programs;
- Introduce new members to hunting through feral pest control programs under the guidance of experienced hunters.
There are more than 1000 C&WM members nationally. To become a member of an C&WM branch, shooters must first be a member of the SSAA.
To become an ‘active’ C&WM member, shooters must pass an accreditation program consisting of map reading, navigation, firearm safety, wildlife appreciation and ‘living-in-the-field’ courses. They must also pass map proficiency and shooting accuracy tests.
Benefits of membership
- Play an integral role in Australia’s future
- Take advantage of numerous hunting opportunities
- Travel to new and exciting places
- Improve hunting and bush-survival skills
- Establish friendships with like-minded people
- Acquire in-depth knowledge of both native and introduced species
- Centrefire bolt-action rifles
- Ammunition - suitable calibres for chosen game
- Camping gear - tents, swags, cooking items, etc
- First-aid kits
- Shooting accuracy
- Map reading
- Four-wheel driving