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Issue #1585      March 13, 2013

No science to support recreational hunting

Scientists delivered a comprehensive “No!” when answering the question “Is recreational hunting defensible?” in a recent talk at the University of Technology Sydney.

The 2013 UTS “Science in Focus” lecture series began with an examination of the validity of recreational hunting as a conservation tool to control introduced species in NSW, by Emeritus Professor Marc Bekoff and Dr Daniel Ramp.

“One of the big questions this lecture addressed is ‘Does the reported conservation gain outweigh the animal welfare cost?’” said Dr Daniel Ramp, Senior Lecturer, School of the Environment, UTS Sydney.

“After analysing the data on recreational hunting, we have concluded that it is not an effective tool for dealing with introduced animals.”

If the number of animals shot is too small to impact on populations, the killing of animals, often in cruel circumstances, simply cannot be ethically justified.

“Research shows that to reduce the density of pigs, for example, 70 percent of the population must be killed in order to start seeing an overall decline over time. Recreational hunters are simply not getting those kinds of figures,” said Dr Ramp. Information from the Invasive Species Council presented at the lecture revealed that the culling of one pig by a recreational hunter carries a cost of $180 per animal for taxpayers.

“The claims that recreational hunting comes at ‘no cost’ is utterly false,” says Justin McKee, National Parks Association of NSW.

“To impact introduced animal populations, we need a far broader reach and a steep increase in effort and recreational hunting won’t cut the mustard.

“A significant investment from the state now in professional, integrated and humane strategies will yield a decline over time. This ad-hoc approach the Coalition is endorsing and funding will cost us significantly in dollars and animal welfare but will have no impact on conservation outcomes for national parks,” concluded Justin McKee.   

Next article – Film review – Lincoln

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