Pot shots fly over new park hunting law

The gulf between hunters and environmentalists remains as wide as ever as new laws covering shooting in national parks came into effect yesterday.

The opposing sides continued to take pot shots at each other as an agreement between the Coalition and the Shooters and Fishers Party became law.

Under the plan, recreational shooters will be allowed to cull feral animals in 79 national parks and reserves away from metropolitan areas, including the Morton National Park on the South Coast.

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The first amateur shooting will start in March.

Rangers employed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service are reported to be considering industrial action in response to the law.

Terry Barratt, who managed parks from Lake Illawarra to Batemans Bay and out to Goulburn in the 1980s, said he was appalled.

"There are a whole load of complicated issues that require knowledge of the ecology and animal characteristics," he said.

"This is not the way we should be managing these significant natural areas set aside for wildlife and the enjoyment of the community."

Apart from the obvious safety concerns, he said feral animal eradication needed a co-ordinated, professional approach that was not possible using amateur shooters.

"I know a lot of people who are wondering about their safety if they go walking in national parks," he said.

However, recreational shooter John Chmurycz, a member of the Shooters and Fishers Party from Barrack Heights, dismissed the safety concerns.

"I really can't see it happening," he said.

"As a shooter, you positively identify your target and look at what's behind the target.

"You don't shoot a rabbit if there is a mob of sheep behind it and you don't shoot a kangaroo if it's standing at the top of a hill."

While he does not have the necessary licence to shoot in national parks, Mr Chmurycz shoots feral animals such as rabbits, foxes and kangaroos on private properties throughout western NSW.

"We are putting food on the table that isn't full of chemicals or styrofoam and we are getting rid of animals that are competing for resources with our native animals," he said.

The issue has split NSW Parliament with Opposition Leader John Robertson accusing the state government of putting bushwalkers, campers and holidaymakers at risk.

"If the Premier is so determined to enact this policy, he must give a commitment to resign if a single person is wounded or killed," he said.

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