Be Part of the Solution
We at SSAA National know there is no one simple answer to managing the impacts of Australia’s most damaging species on private properties, public forests and parks across the country and that is why we are calling on new and existing SSAA members to be part of the solution…
Using all the tools in the toolbox
We at the SSAA believe that we must use all the management tools available to address our introduced and native wildlife management issues. The majority of wildlife managers agree that to have an effective management regime, you need to use all the tools in the toolbox to achieve the best results. Selective shooting in conjunction with a mix of other control methods will enhance introduced species management efforts.
The majority of SSAA’s 130,000 members across the country participate in hunting activities. We know they voluntarily put their own time, money and resources into managing introduced species such as rabbits, foxes, feral cats, goats, dogs and pigs. All of these species cause significant levels of environmental and economic damage across Australia.
A visual presence
To kick off our Be Part of the Solution campaign, SSAA National has designed and implemented a billboard at Canberra Airport and posters around public locations in Melbourne’s CBD. The image of a fox has been used for our campaign because this animal has been identified as one of Australia’s most damaging introduced species, impacting both our small native wildlife and livestock.
The economic and environmental impacts of species
The Counting the Cost: Impact of Invasive Animals in Australia report by the Cooperative Research Centre for Pest Animal Control in 2004 conservatively totalled the impact cost of introduced species to be $720 million per year in Australia based on economic and environmental losses. Since that breakthrough study, a new report titled The Economic Impacts of Vertebrate Pests in Australia (2009) by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre has calculated the direct economic impact alone to be $743.5 million per year. There have also been many other studies that have painted bleak pictures of ever increasing environmental, social and economic costs. Foxes, rabbits, feral pigs and feral cats are reported to be responsible for up to 83 per cent of all economic loss inflicted in this country.
The Counting the Cost report estimated the economic and environmental impact cost of foxes alone to be $227.5 million per year. Rabbits accounted for $113.11 million, feral cats for $146 million, feral pigs for $106.5 million, feral goats for $7.74 million, wild dogs (dingoes and feral dogs) for $66.3 million and feral camels for $0.21 million. The Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre has now recently estimated direct economic damage caused by the ever-increasing feral camel population to be in excess of $15 million per year.
All of these introduced animals can be targeted by licensed hunters in organised control programs in groups or individually. Such actions can be run in conjunction with other control measures currently in place to reduce impacts and populations. The cost to the community of hunter participation is very low because, like many thousands of people across the country each day, these hunters volunteer their time and related costs to be involved in valuable conservation activities.
We at SSAA National support the involvement of our members in property-based management plans where they develop working relationships with farmers and land managers across the country. We also support our members’ efforts in helping state government departments manage species in public parks and reserves across the country. Since the success of Operation Bounceback in the re-establishment of yellow-footed rock wallaby populations in the Flinders Ranges National Park in the early 1990s, many programs involving licensed hunters have resulted in real conservation benefits across public land throughout the country.
Anti-hunting ideology debunked
In an attempt to slur the character of hunters, critics of hunting often say that hunters enjoy killing animals. They call hunting ‘inhumane’ and ‘cruel’, but nothing could be further from the truth. Hunters are normal, everyday people, who practise to refine their skills to ensure shot placement results in a quick, clean kill. We should all know that nature is not as kind and most animals that die in the wild suffer a fate worse than being killed quickly and humanely by a hunter. Just think of a native bird being slowly devoured and eaten alive by a feral cat, whereas the massive hydrostatic shock and blood flow disruption to the brain caused by projectile impact render insensibility prior to rapid death.
Any perception of cruelty is only driven by animal rights ideology, which argues that people have no right to utilise animals for food or products or undertake culling to reduce a species impact or suffering. Such perceptions use false information and deception to lure people into believing what they say is true.
Animal rights groups always push the line that hunters like the act of killing. Most people wouldn’t question an angler if they enjoyed killing the fish that they had just caught. It’s simply not about the act of killing. A hunter, like an angler, certainly does gain a level of satisfaction from the pursuit, involvement and successful result of their recreational activities. This adds to the enjoyment of being out in the outdoor environment with friends and family while doing something practical for conservation and being part of the solution to Australia’s introduced species problems
Empowering the community
The SSAA provides its members with opportunities to undergo accredited skill and safety training programs. This allows our members to achieve marksmanship skills above that required by most commercial shooters. Why do the critics of non-commercial hunters insist on using only paid shooters to undertake introduced species control, especially when licensed volunteers can do the same job for free? We believe it is much better to utilise and empower a willing part of our community and then use the money saved on other complementary actions to achieve the best results. It also makes no sense at all when you consider that professional shooters often come from the SSAA member pool.
Members of SSAA Victoria, for instance, currently have the opportunity to participate in the Fox Stop program - a joint initiative of the Victorian Government’s Future Farming Strategy, SSAA Victoria and Field & Game Australia. This program allows hunters to register for prizes for every fox removed from the environment. Such programs empower the community to help be part of the solution. Initiatives between governments, the community and licensed hunters are something that we at the SSAA support and believe should be commonly utilised across the country.