Hunting in NSW national parks on hold

The NSW government has halted plans to allow hunting in the state’s national parks and launched an investigation into the NSW Game Council, following claims of illegal hunting by a council employee.

Last week, the Game Council’s acting chief executive Greg McFarland was suspended on allegations of illegal hunting and animal cruelty.

Police are currently investigating the allegations against Mr McFarland.

STORY: Game boss suspended over illegal hunting claim

On Thursday, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell announced the government had enlisted Director General of NSW Fisheries Steve Dunn to carry out a review of the Game Council’s governance.

He also announced the government’s hunting program, which would allow hunting in the state’s national parks as part of pest eradication, would be put on hold until the review was completed.

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‘‘Our actions in initiating this governance review again confirms the paramountcy of safety as we implement in NSW the type of pest eradication program conducted successfully for many years in SA and Victoria,’’ he told state parliament during question time on Thursday.

The review will investigate services performed by the Game Council, examine its performance, structure and staff capabilities and look at the company’s finances and administration.

Mr Dunn will be required to make recommendations about the Council’s management, administration, organisation and operations.

The recommendations will be provided to the government by the end of May.

A report on the incident has already been presented to the government but Mr O’Farrell told parliament it will not be released due to an ‘‘ongoing police investigation and the possibility of charges being laid’’.

A second Game Council employee was also suspended but was later cleared of the allegations.

The NSW Greens has welcomed the review of the Game Council but says it must be meaningful and not merely a delay tactic by the government.

‘‘Both Shooters Party MPs in NSW Parliament are former chairmen of the Game Council, which gives some idea of how the organisation is run,’’ Greens MP David Shoebridge said in a statement.

The Greens have called for the government to also suspend hunting in the state’s forests.

‘‘Despite millions of dollars being spent on the Game Council, in the decade of amateur hunting in state forests not one feral population has been successfully controlled in a single state forest,’’ Mr Shoebridge said.

AAP

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