SSAA Victoria has sought an urgent meeting with the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change after a report recommended locking up vast tracts of hunting land.
Last month the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) submitted to the Minister its Central West Investigation Final Report which recommended turning 77,377ha of Mt Cole, Wellsford and Wombat State Forest into national park.
The recommendations severely restrict the already limited hunting opportunities for hunters in the State’s west.
The final report also ignored SSAA Victoria submissions made during the public consultation process in 2017 and late last year which raised concerns that the VEAC proposal contravened the principles of the Sustainable Hunting Action Plan (SHAP).
“We do not understand why there is an obsession with locking away accessible public land when there is a clear need to control pest and game species,” SSAA Victoria Hunting Development Manager David Laird said.
“It is hunters who achieve these outcomes and who do a great service in the areas that VEAC wants to protect. The idea of locking us out of it makes no sense.
“The recommendations also fly in the face of SHAP, which the Victorian Government has committed to, that has clear principles in delivering increased hunting opportunities.”
In response to the release of the recommendations, SSAA Victoria CEO Jack Wegman has sought an urgent meeting with Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio.
“We put two solid submissions to VEAC clearly outlining the impact its proposal would have on our members, but they have been ignored,” he said.
“The recommendations impose the same restrictions on hunters as consumptive users such as the timber industry.
“That makes no sense considering hunting benefits native wildlife by removing introduced species from their habitat.
“We are now seeking a meeting with the Minister to ensure the potential impact on our members and the environment is properly understood.”
The Government has until early 2020 to respond to the final recommendations.
A rally of all state forest users who would be affected by the VEAC recommendations has been planned for August 27.