A RESOUNDING “no” echoed across the pit complex at Mount Panorama yesterday when National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) rangers were asked whether they approved of hunting in the state’s national parks.
More than 40 protesters braved the cold outside a community cabinet meeting to rally against shooting in NSW parks and reserves.
NPWS area manager Kim de Govrik said the safety of rangers, park users and native wildlife was at risk if the government’s deal with the Shooters and Fishers Party went ahead.
“We want [our rangers] to be able to go home at the end of every day,” Mr de Govrik said.
“We don’t want bullets buzzing around their ears while they’re trying to get on with doing their normal day’s work.
“It’s dangerous legislation. We will lose lives, people will get injured and our native fauna will suffer.”
Premier Barry O’Farrell last week announced the government would allow recreational hunters to cull feral animals in 79 national parks and reserves, in exchange for the crucial backing of its electricity privatisation bill from Shooters Party MPs.
“We were absolutely gutted because we trusted the premier, we trusted the minister,” Mr de Govrik said. “They said it wouldn’t happen and now it has happened, so we’re extremely disapp-ointed with that decision.
“We see this as the thin edge of the wedge. Rangers across NSW [are saying] they’re extremely concerned that this will be spread like a disease across that state through all our national parks.”
Based in Oberon, Mr de Govrik said he feared the legislation would push feral animals off parks and onto farm land.
“We have carefully co-ordinated controlled programs for all feral animals,” he said. “What these amateur hunters will do is disperse all those animals across the landscape. They’ll end up on farmland and destroy more crops and pastures.”
Mr de Govrik said NPWS rangers were taking industrial action and refusing to co-operate with the government to carry out the plan.
“At the moment we’re refusing to be involved in anything that will assist with the implementation of this on the ground,” he said.
“The PSA [Public Service Association] has a ban on ... helping with any correspondence for the Minister for Environment or the Coalition Government.”