Shooting in National Parks will ruin tourism, says lobby group

Allowing shooting in National Parks will be dangerous and will ruin tourism on the South Coast, according to a lobby group.

Friends of Durras has joined the campaign against the State Government’s plan to introduce recreational hunting in national parks.

Convenor John Perkins said the move would make shooters believe that they had “free rein” in national parks and would potentially put bushwalkers and campers’ lives at risk.

The Friends of Durras comments come less than a month after a live kangaroo was photographed by a bushwalker in Murramarang National Park with an arrow embedded in its body.

“Friends of Durras and all of their work over 27 years has been about providing enjoyment of Murramarang National Park without the hazard of illegal activities.

“Never in our wildest imagination would we allow the NSW Government to allow shooting in national parks.”

Mr Perkins is raising awareness in the lead-up to the holiday season.

“Shooters in national parks will stop visitors,” Mr Perkins said.

“National parks – they’re the engine room of our economy down here. Murramarang National Park is a really valuable gateway and is something that is so attractive to visitors.

“It’s just not the environment where you want to have that mix of people going hunting or shooting.”

Mr Perkins said it was the “darkest day” in his 30 years of conservation lobbying.

“Last school holidays my son was intending to go camping in a national park, and I skilled him up on what to do in case he heard gun shots.

“I’ve never had to do that before.

“I’m sure other parents would have concerns as well.

“I’ve been in situations trotting around Australia and heard gun shots. That’s just so unnerving.”

Mr Perkins said he would hate to see the day when a stray bullet hit a person.

The State Government has agreed to open 79 national parks and reserves for recreational hunting of feral animals, after it struck a deal with the Shooters and Fishers Party in June.

Recreational hunting of feral pests is currently permitted in State Forests but shooters require a licence.

Mr Perkins said there were foxes in Murramarang National Park but the best way to eradicate them was through baiting programs, not shooting.

Meanwhile, a survey carried out in September found that 95.9 per cent of National Parks and Wildlife Service staff, who would oversee the new shooting program, believed the government’s plan would endanger park users.

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