Petition puts state forest hunting in the cross-hairs
A PETITION has been put before Queensland Parliament to allow the hunting of feral game in state forests.
The proposed three-year trial would target feral species including deer, goats, pigs, foxes, feral dogs and feral cats.
Principal petitioner and environmental science student Daniel Boniface said similar schemes were in place in NSW and Victoria that had proven to be both safe and successful.
"I am very passionate about Australia's unique and intrinsically valuable ecology, but I am gravely concerned about the impacts of introduced species on our native flora and fauna," he said.
"Part of it is about controlling the populations of introduced species, but there's an economic benefit as well."
Mr Boniface said feral pests cause in the vicinity of $700 million in damages to crops, stock and farming infrastructure across Queensland.
"If this scheme is considered on the economic benefits alone, the dollars and sense of it simply stack up," he said.
Mr Boniface said those benefits included tourism, accommodation, and employment.
"This would support jobs in rural and regional Queensland and recreational hunters would be willing to travel and support businesses year-round," he said.
"Australian Deer Association Queensland president Adrian Filche estimates $6 million moves south of the border because state park hunting isn't a thing here in Queensland.
"There are plenty of suburban, law-abiding firearm owners who don't have an opportunity to develop relationships with farmers and therefore can't engage in the sports the way they'd like to."
Mr Boniface said Queensland had a significant pest problem and the raft of environmental issues stemming from their activities in state parks were broad and complicated.
"The obvious issues include predation of native animals, marsupials and ground-dwelling birds," he said.
"What isn't so well known are the environmental issues such as soil erosion, land degradation, water pollution and the perpetuation of pathogens carried by feral pigs.
"The impacts are too far reaching for the scope of this conversation, but if populations aren't curtailed, soon the damage may will be irreversible.
"As it stands, if dramatic reduction of the populations of introduced species was to begin soon, it would still take many years for the impacts of that mitigation to be observed in the environment."
Mr Boniface said his job now was to drum up as much support as possible to get people to sign the e-petition.
"I wrote a letter to Deb Frecklington with regards to her Nanango electorate and the presence of deer, which needs to be reduced," he said.
"I haven't received a response yet but I think solely from a tourism perspective, her electorate would really benefit and she owes this petition her support.
"If I was in parliament and had a $70 billion debt, I'd be crawling on broken glass up and down the state to find an opportunity to reverse that."
The Member for Nanango said departmental cuts had been one of the major issues exacerbating the feral pest problem across the state.
"These cuts have led to the increase in feral pests that is causing havoc in parts of our state."
Ms Frecklington said she had spoken to many people about the issue.
"I share their frustration and I'm calling on Labor to start listening, reverse these cuts and get this problem under control," she said.
The online petition has close to 9000 signatures and is open until February 24, 2019.
You can sign the petition here.