Hunting ferals

There is this bunch of volunteers that want to spend their spare time helping to rid NSW national parks of feral animals. I’m not sure why they want to do it for free but it seems they do. The NSW government wants to amend the law to allow them to help. According to one media reportthe Public Service Association, which represents park rangers, has ordered its members not to assist“. I’m not sure where it’s authority to order people about stems from but in any case it seems a little bit knee jerk. Surely removing feral animals from national parks, essentially for free, would be a good thing.

As I understand the state of play in NSW hunting is already allowed in state forests and on some other crown land. South Australia allows hunting in national parks and national park rangers have worked effectively with hunters to remove pest species in several parts of the state.

Perhaps some of the opposition to this stems from the fact that they won’t be hunting bare foot with spears or clubs. Apparently they want to use firearms.

62 thoughts on “Hunting ferals

  1. The parks and rangers should be giving assistance (and maybe a little oversight) on the best way of doing this – how not to be cruel, preventing use of bait that could harm other animals, ensuring any shooters are competent, ensuring that volunteers know the boundaries in which they are allowed to cull, etc, etc.

    As a lefty, I’d be a bit more authoritarian and prefer that the firearms were issued and returned (unless they were held by nearby farmers or shooting clubs) – but that’s a mere quibble as far as the key part of this issue is concerned.

    By the way, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the rangers ignored the public service association on this, and gave as much assistance to the shooters as they could.

  2. I don’t have anything against hunting per se, however I think this sort of hunting really sucks.

    Newer animals to this continent shouldn’t be whacked for the reason that they weren’t here until recently.

    All that’s happened is that we have tweaked the evolutionary process by introducing these animals and if they can survive in the wild they are better at adaptation than the older, lazier ones.

    In fact the evolutionary process/change is what all us animals are about. If these critters can survive on their own even at the expense of the older ones they should not be killed for their success. It’s actually a form of socialism and no libertarian worth their salt ought to be killing these animals for this reason.

    Why should these critters have lesser rights to live than the older ones if only because they arrived by boat and not trotted over here when the land was attached to Asia.

    Don’t do it. Don’t practice socialist hunting. Hunt for other reasons but not this one.

  3. I hope you are joking JC.

    The reasons for culling introduced animals are pretty obvious, they outcompete the native species and cause extinctions.

  4. I’m not joking, Yobs. I serious. The attempt is not to cull them but to eliminate non native species. If the native species can’t survive, then it’s too bad, they’ll do so in a zoo.

  5. I’m all for ecological management within national parks. Let the foxes live in zoos.And refering to this as socialism isn’t meaningful or helpful.

    Dave – how does shifting storage of guns from those that own and love them to beauracrats improve saftey. The police systematically fail to comply with firearm storage laws so why would park rangers be any better at it.

  6. What does meaningful or helpful mean in this context, Terje?

    How am I not being meaningful or helpful? Is it the fact that I don’t agree with killing animals because of their success in being able to adapt?

    The fact that they arrived by boat doesn’t mean they aren’t part of the evolutionary process.

    Ecological management these days is socialism and it’s not surprising these bureaucratic schleps arrive at the conclusion that these animals must be killed to punish their success.

  7. Similarly, if you want to cause a shit fight with fishos, tell them that Trout are feral and should have no bag or size limit. They’ve out-competed Trout Cod, Macquarie Perch, Grayling and Upland Blackfish.

    Actually, I’m not sure that you can actually wipe out species once they are introduced. European Carp are on the decline, but they are not dying out – they are reaching a steady state which is simpler lower than their previous plague proportions.

  8. terje:

    I’m talking about animals and what people are doing in public parks and elsewhere. Bringing weeds into the argument is silly unless you’ve given your weeds organ transplants.

  9. jc – so it’s ‘socialist’ to hunt cane toads is it?

    Your whole line of argument rests on the absurd notion, shared by PETA, that animals have the same natural rights as humans.

    To maintain that argument from a libertarian perspective, you need to consider the private property rights of existing native animals, not to mention the fact that foxes, for example, think nothing of murdering innocent native (and non-native) species – if they do this, they should be put to trial in an animal court (dare I say a Kangaroo court?) Then you have the whole issue of carnivores and for them to even eat means violating the individual liberties of other animals.

    I still reckon you’re just taking the mickey – but it’s an interesting point. Some of the extreme enviornmentalists who equate animal rights with human rights go the other way – and do seek to cull us as a species because of our success in being able to adapt. I think the distinction between animal welfare and human liberty is an important one to make.

  10. Terje:

    You brought up the example of weeds. That was plainly silly as weeds aren’t animals.

    No, catching a trout isn’t socialism, however hunting and killing animals because you somehow have this notion that they shouldn’t live because they don’t belong here is.

    Papa:

    I had no idea what PETA’s argument is on this subject as I’ve never read their stuff.

    I’m not bringing in property rights into this argument at all and I certainly don’t think those rights confer over to critters. Property rights are expressly a human concept.

    My point is, as I said, that killing animals because there is some notion that they don’t belong here is pretty awful. I also said that I have nothing against hunting if that is what people choose to do, but please don’t let it be for this reason.

    The argument used to kill these animals is similar to the one used that white’s somehow shouldn’t be here either and that this land is stolen.

    We’re Killing these animals because of their success in being able to adapt. It’s got so bad that they’re actually started to try and kill off wild horses in the Victorian high country, not because there are too many of them, but because they don’t “belong” there.

    The same goes for camels in various deserts. We’re killing these animals because they’re able to adapt in deserts? Freaking deserts!!!

  11. No, you can do what you like on your property.

    My socialist reference related to this:

    As I understand the state of play in NSW hunting is already allowed in state forests and on some other crown land. South Australia allows hunting in national parks and national park rangers have worked effectively with hunters to remove pest species in several parts of the state.

  12. About ten years ago, in the bush, I heard the term ferals used to describe militant greenies. I wonder if someone is practicing eugenics, and calling it culling?

  13. “Is catching feral trout a form of socialism?”

    Not being allowed to catch as many as I like is arguably socialist (after all, I paid for my fishing licence) and contra to the ethos of the anti-feral group you cited.

    “I’m close to giving up. Are you simply saying national parks should be privatised?”

    I think he is. (I think his main point is that unless you can prove ecological harm, there is no point in doing so – hence why I brought up Trout – their value, ecological and otherwise, is controversial) Take for example some holistic farmers. They wouldn’t use the same approach in controlling certain weeds and animals. The Government says all parks must do so in a identical fashion, despite what the locals may say from anywhere in the State.

    Rivers are problematic. You can buy sections of rivers if you own both sides of the banks in NSW. If the guy upstream of you releases 10 000 Brown Trout fingerlings and you’ve wiped them out and replaced them with Grayling and Macquarie Perch, clearly this is a case for side payments.

    There is no real way to work this out other than central planning with what we have now.

  14. Therein is the point Terje – Carp are undoubtedly feral, but are Trout? No, but they’ve clearly impacted domestic species. Could be an issue of preference in stocking after the Snowy Hydro scheme as well that skews the ecology.

  15. Terje:

    I don’t know what it is that’s confusing you. I’ll go over my beliefs and concerns, not necessarily in any order.

    1. I believe in culling

    2. I believe in hunting.

    3. I don’t think we should be killing animals simply because someone thinks they “non-native” and so have no right to exist in the wild.

    I think it’s wrong to kill them for this reason. However if these animals are proving to be too damaging then killing some off them in a cull is fine with me.

    Killing brumbies simply because they aren’t native is a horrendous thing to do and that’s actually happening with state government consent in Victoria despite protestations of property owners who don’t mind having them on their own or leased land.

    I witnessed a very amusing thing in the top end some years ago. We were traveling by boat in an aboriginal owned park and saw some freely roaming cattle. The tour organizer told us that there was a fight going on between the aboriginals and the Federal/state government over the issue of free roaming cattle. The aboriginals wanted to keep them as they liked them for visual satisfaction while the government reps wanted to kill them off simply because they didn’t belong there.

    I disagree with killing off non-native animals simply because some people think they don’t belong. I don’t think that’s a good reason to kill an animal.

  16. JC has a valid point. Being non-native is not, by itself, sufficient reason to hunt willy nilly.

    A good example is deer. They have adapted brilliantly to the Australian environment and cause little or no harm. Deer hunting is a valuable activity that would be removed if deer were hunted to extinction. Managed harvesting is the best approach.

    Feral goats, camels and horses are harmful to the country but it’s not all bad and they can also sometimes be rounded up for income. Goats are also good at keeping certain weeds under control.

    Foxes, pigs, feral cats and rabbits have no redeeming aspects except for fox and rabbit skins. They seriously damage the environment and are especially tough on little marsupials. I’m happy for every last one of them to be killed.

    Incidentally, the libertarian issue surrounding hunting in National Parks is not the hunting itself. It’s the authoritarian rules that go with it. The proposal would give the NSW Game Council enormous control over an activity that was previously largely unregulated. I support the hunting itself, but not the regulatory approach.

  17. so what about the proposed hunting of crocodiles and kangaroos in areas where their number needs to be reduced?

    I don’t have an issue with this; does that make me a socialist according to jc?

  18. “where their number needs to be reduced”

    That’s the qualifier. If there is no significant ecological impact and the animal has a positive economic value, then the number doesn’t need to be reduced. (Again, Trout are contentious).

    Culling purely because the animal is non-native by Government directive seems like socialism driving some kind of irrational deep green agenda.

  19. JC – if John Smith thinks brumbies should be wiped out in the National Parks or his back paddock that view isn’t socialist. I’m not objecting to your point about non-native animals having a place in Australia, I’m objecting to the notion that the alternate view is socialist. I don’t want feral animals such as cats, pigs and foxes in National Parks. That does not make me a socialist. Just as the fact that you or David might think National Parks should have deer also isn’t socialist.

  20. Mark – what are you on about? So what if killing brumbies is deep green. It isn’t socialist to want brumbies out of National Parks. It is no more socialist than me thinking the Botanic Garden should have more banana trees and less fig trees.

  21. Culling purely because the animal is non-native by Government directive seems like socialism driving some kind of irrational deep green agenda.

    Exactly. That’s my point.

    Terje, you can detonate a nuke on your property as long as it doesn’t effect anyone else, as I really don’t care. However we’re not really talking about that especially in the way how the Victorian government has acted over the issues of brumbies….. and that’s the one I know. I’m sure there are many others too.

    It isn’t socialist to want brumbies out of National Parks

    well here’s the rub, terje. I like the idea of brumbies running through the high country because the people that live there seem to like it and the idea of killing such fine animals to satisfy some need to differentiate between native and non-native is “pukable”.

  22. Terje@19 said “I’m giving up”.
    Giggle… your on-side with lefty me on the issue! You, accused of pushing socialist policies… seeing full-on libertarians as going too far… whodathunkit?

    As for JC: obviously recovered from his recent love-in with lefty melaleuca over at skepticlawyer.

    Pretty much all introduced species affect not just native species in the same niche, but have many knock-on effects affecting the whole ecosystem. Hooved animals (such as brumbies) are well-worth taking out of national parks, while getting greatest economic benefit by turning them into pet food, gelatin, fertilizer, and leather.

    Feral cats? Pigs? Foxes? Cane toads? I reckon we do what they are doing to bunny rabbits in Stockholm – render them down into biofuel.

    As for supernumerary roos – current culls are wasteful, while harvesting roo meat for human consumption can replace hooved animals (cows, sheep), which means less water wastage, less erosion, healthier human diets, and a 5% reduction in carbon emissions. Thinking greens know this, but the brainless greenies, clutching their stuffed toy roos (not real leather, but synthetic, using up petrochemicals!), refuse to think clearly and wholistically on such issues.

    Personally, I reckon a bit of weapons training is useful for teens (comes in handy for the coming glorious revolution when we put the capitalists up against the wall), develops a healthy respect for weapons (which would paradoxically lead to increased sensible gun controls), and the kiddies can feel good because they are blowing away vermin. So don’t let seasoned hunters have all the fun… encourage schools to have "planet saving" extracurricular activities!

  23. Pretty much all introduced species affect not just native species in the same niche, but have many knock-on effects affecting the whole ecosystem.

    Dave, everything has a knock effect on the environment. Even a flea. That excuse is still to wear a little thin. The environment works for us not the other way around. That’s still no excuse to go running a wrecking ball and such, however the idea of a pristine environment isn’t my idea.

  24. I can’t see how killing an animal is socialist.

    I can see why somebody would say that national parks are socialist (though perhaps it would be better to use a different word so as not to dilute the meaning of “socialist”)… but once the government controls the land then I don’t think their actions on that land can make them more or less socialist.

  25. well here’s the rub, terje. I like the idea of brumbies running through the high country because the people that live there seem to like it and the idea of killing such fine animals to satisfy some need to differentiate between native and non-native is “pukable”.

    I don’t like anchovies on pizza. That doesn’t make it socialism.

  26. Personally, I reckon a bit of weapons training is useful for teens (comes in handy for the coming glorious revolution when we put the capitalists up against the wall), develops a healthy respect for weapons (which would paradoxically lead to increased sensible gun controls), and the kiddies can feel good because they are blowing away vermin.

    Dave – Maybe everybody in society should do some weapons training like in Switzerland so that we can have gun controls like in Switzerland.

  27. Terje:

    No I guess the government dictating what lives and dies in state parks, leased out land and private property is an example of libertarian anarchy. Is that what you would prefer to call it.

  28. I can’t see how killing an animal is socialist.

    Thats because your sensible.

    I can see why somebody would say that national parks are socialist

    Just as having a nationalised telephone company was socialist. However telephones are not socialist.

  29. Terje:

    Are you just playing games or have you been drinking all day?

    Pulling the trigger at an animal isn’t socialist. Is that what you honestly thought I meant?

    However the entire statist edifice deciding what lives and why is statist.

    Enjoy your anchovies, Terje and don’t feel guilty.

  30. No I did not think you thought pulling the trigger was socialist. I understand that your reference to socialism was pitched at deciding what lives and dies. In the context of deciding what animals or plants lives or die in a national park I simply think labels such as socialism are irrelevant. It is like saying that democracy smells purple.

  31. Well perhaps it does smell purple. However i think I’ve explained to many times why I think the entire thing is a statist/socialist enterprise and you respond by reference to purple and anchovies or weeds.

    Why do you think think animals that were brought over by ship instead of walking here when the land bridge was around have less of a right to live than say a big fat wombat if they aren’t pestulent?

  32. I can’t see how an opinion about animals (domestic or foreign, good or bad) is socialist. Love them. Hate them. Eat them. I don’t care.

    Socialism is about whether government controls assets… it is not defined by how they use the assets.

    I think it fair to say that an instinctive anti-foreign animal bias shows green bigotry. And perhaps fair to say that our statist system is becoming more green. But I don’t think that indicates more or less statism, just a different kind of statism.

  33. Slightly off-topic, but it seems that by jc’s logic on fitness and occupation, if a big nasty monster comes to Earth from outer space with a big nasty disintegrator gun, wipes out humans and settles, then that should be ok then. Inconvenient for us, yes, but nothing we can complain about on philosophical principles.

  34. jc@43: No, just making silly voices saying “Where’s the KABOOM? There should have been an Earth shattering KABOOM!” But that’s not a big nasty monster, it’s a small and cute monster with good classical roman fashion sense – and easily defeated by rabbits anyway.

  35. Why do you think think animals that were brought over by ship instead of walking here when the land bridge was around have less of a right to live than say a big fat wombat if they aren’t pestulent?

    Asthetics perhaps.

    You can argue for more foxes in national parks. That is a valid preference. It isn’t mainstream but I don’t object to you having a such a view on park managment. I simply objected to your characterisation of the alternate view as being socialist. Wanting less foxes in national parks is not socialist.

  36. Dave – you’re too open minded to remain a statist forever. Even as we speak there are small doubts slowly circling your statist certainties. You openly mock your own dogma. Step across the void and pass on over to the dark side. 😉

  37. T@46: No I’m just an idiosyncratic arrogant statist! If 90% of humans are stupid, then lots of ideas from the third that are socialistically inclined are stupid – so naturally I laugh at a lot of them. Remember, I majored in things like Path and Tox, and view planet/individual like body/cell (with a bias on the importance of the CNS). Maybe if I was mainly into histology I’d be a full-on libertarian!

  38. Yes Dave. Terje is right. isn’t it about time you just made the switch over to the dark side. This holding back is really starting to bore everyone. Just get the small suitcase at the back of the closet, stick a few clothes in there and make the jump. We’re all waiting for ya on the other side.

  39. Terje/jc : You mistake as “almost ready to jump to the dark side” my politeness as a visitor to a forum inhabited by those of a different persuasion. As my fb “politics” statement goes “Socialist for essentials, free-market for non-essentials, libertarian for personals.” And when you have as broad an idea of essentials as I have, for everyone on the planet, it doesn’t leave too many resources left for non-essentials, for otherwise we’d be stealing from the commons. Anyway, enough on me… get back to the discussion on banging away at the ferals. (And here I was thinking I could tempt Terhje, and even Yobbo[!!!] to the Light.)

  40. JC where your logic fails is that the environment is not just 1 gigantic ball we call earth. Different ecosystems evolved in different places and introducing a species from a completely alien ecosystem can be every bit as devastating as that movie about Aliens.

    The fact is that yes, rabbits and foxes won the evolutionary race and are more highly evolved than Australian native animals. They evolved in a more competitive system which bred them tougher, in a similar way that a more competitive soccer league breeds better players.

    The point of difference between say, a closed ecosystem and a closed market is that having animals reach the pinnacle of their evolution is not helpful to anyone. Evolution is a zero-sum game, unlike capitalism. In fact if we had a way to artificially accelerate the process and create a perfect uber-animal, it would likely replace us as the dominant species on the planet.

    So yes I guess you could say in a way of speaking that trying to keep out introduced animals *is* like socialism in that manner. In the same way, having a national draft and salary cap in the AFL is socialism.

    But both forms of socialism are helpful rather than harmful. The AFL doesn’t have to play off against any other leagues so socialism restricting the more powerful clubs hurts nobody and gives us a more interesting competition.

    Likewise, until we are invaded by some alien species from another planet which asks us to pit our best predator against their best predator with high stakes, restricting the process of survival of the fittest by restricting the spread of the most highly evolved animal species does no disservice to anyone, and benefits us by retaining a larger total number of species on the planet which can be enjoyed by all.

    In other words: The world would be a more boring place if all there was were rabbits, foxes and mosquitoes. It might be better for rabbits for them to be able to cover the entire world but it’s no better for anyone else.

  41. In the same vein you could say that having laws against murder, rape and genocide are socialism if that floats your boat. Outlawing them basically put a cork in the flow of natural selection just as species quarantining does.

    But I don’t necessarily think being able to fly and see in the dark like bats but having to hide in caves out of fear of predation by a rival group of flying human bat people would necessarily be a better result…

  42. The AFL salary cap is not socialism. It’s a business policy decision. You may not like it and it may have flaws and cause problems but it isn’t socialism. Next you guys will start claiming that writing with your left hand or catching the bus is socialism. This is as bad as the left wingers that characterise all wars, political corruption and third world poverty as right wing plots. Please lift your game.

  43. “The world would be a more boring place if all there was were rabbits, foxes and mosquitoes.”

    Mosquito fascist.

  44. Terje, if you are a football player the AFL might as well be the government. And they absolutely control the means of production and the resources. Ask Ben Cousins or John Elliot.

    But like I said it’s not a big deal because people don’t go hungry if AFL teams are held back by socialism. They do go hungry when it is applied to national economies though.

  45. I’m still against Government mandated blanket rules for natural resource management which have only aesthetic and no ecological validity, particularly those that go beyond State owned property and it is valid to call them socialist directives as the resource areas and species are being manged bu central directive and generally have an economic value (particularly if the eradication is not justified) which is being ignored for “social” or other purposes.

    I admit though it is rare and the limit as to what socialism is, but it is still a valid term where it occurs.

    JC was wrong about brumbies but inadvertently right about deer which David L brought up.

    John calls it Statism, but the vague connection between the Statism, socialism and resources is important.

    In Australia, it drives a lot more than policies on biodiversity. It even leads to well meaning social democrat policies perversely locking out native titleholders out of using their own resources effectively to get out of generational poverty.

    Is that *just* Statism or socialism as well?

  46. Mark – what is ecological more important than asthetic. And as an aside I’d like to say that concern about old growth forests is more asthetic than ecological. A 40 year old forest isn’t terribly different in ecological terms to a 400 year old forest.

  47. When Bob Brown says taxpayers should pay to protect endangered species is he more objective than when Paul Keating says taxpayers should pay to build an asthetic capital city? I’d say that both are expressing subjective views about what taxpayers ought to pay for. I don’t think the ecological choice is less subjetive than the asthetic choice.

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