Higher risk of bushfires under amateur hunting in National Parks plan

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Legislation allowing amateur hunting in national parks will increase the risk of bushfires in protected areas, according to a leaked internal risk assessment by the O'Farrell Government.

The Supplementary Pest Control in Parks Program – Draft Risk Assessment dated February 2013 (p44) identifies 'increased risk of wildfire' as a high risk associated with allowing amateur hunting in national parks.

"Unplanned wildfires in national parks can pose a very high risk to both hunters and other parks users and also to OEH staff, with the potential for fatality or serious injury." (p42)

"The potential for major consequences gives this risk a high overall rating." (p42)

Dangers highlighted by the risk assessment include unsafe campfire practices and open fires lit by amateur hunters in remote areas away from cleared camping grounds.

The risk assessment has already confirmed amateur hunters will be left unsupervised in remote areas of national parks – where the bushfire risk is greatest.

"The O'Farrell Government's own department has advised of major safety, environmental and now bushfire risks associated with amateur hunting in national parks, and yet the Premier is still proceeding with this dangerous policy," Shadow Environment Minister, Luke Foley said.

"Allowing recreational shooters to hunt and camp unsupervised in our national parks, where the risk for bushfires from open campfires is great, is a disaster waiting to happen.

"The recent bushfire in the Warrumbungle National Park near Coonabarabran destroyed 53 homes and 50,000 hectares of land.

"If an open campfire left behind by a recreational hunter sparks a bushfire in one of our national parks, the O'Farrell Government can’t pretend it wasn’t warned."