Agriculture | April 21, 2020

Common sense prevails with another backflip on hunting exemption for pest management

Licenced gun owners will again be allowed to help farmers control pest animals after the Andrews Labor Government backflipped on hunting regulations.
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said pest animals including foxes had become a greater problem since the government last month banned recreational hunting under any circumstances during the coronavirus Stay at Home period in Victoria.
However the Labor government has again changed its ruling, making it allowable for licenced shooters to leave home and travel to a farm to help with day-to-day management activities, including controlling pests. Gathering and distancing rules still apply. 
Ms Kealy said it was a sensible move to listen to farmers and allow shooters to do this important work, whether on a paid or unpaid basis.
“Recreational shooters in our community play a big part in helping farmers control pest animals, and Labor’s initial ban on this type of shooting meant landholders had to manage all pests on their own land, creating an impossible task for many,” she said.
“AgVic couldn’t step up to replace banned additional recreational licenced shooters who work on a voluntary basis, so if the bans had continued it would have led to a huge growth in pest numbers and devastating consequences for primary producers’ lamb and sheep stock, particularly with lambing due to start shortly.
“Local farmers are already reporting an increase in fox numbers. Controlling pest animals like foxes is crucial to prevent them decimating lamb and sheep stock and taking away crucial income for our primary producers.”
Ms Kealy said while reversing the ban on unpaid workers helping control pests was a start, shooters still needed to be granted access to purchase ammunition for this important work.
The government introduced a ban on firearm and ammunition sales to recreational shooters at the end of March.
Ms Kealy said the Liberal Nationals would call on the Agriculture Minister in Parliament this week to recognise the need for volunteers to access ammunition to control destructive pests.
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