Monday, April 02, 2018

Professional Hunters Driven Down by Regulation, Fees in Australia

Commercial hunters are the stuff of legend. Scottish Karamojo Bell harvested elephants for ivory in Africa at the turn of the century. American Billy Dixon  made the famed long shot with a buffalo rifle to stop the attack on Adobe walls.  Norwegian Per Jonsson harvested 165 polar bears on Halfmoon Island near Svalbard, Norway, in two years in 1969-71. 

Increasing human populations and agriculture have reduced the potential for commercial hunting. Australia is a place where commercial hunters survive. Australia is a continent as big as the lower 48 states, with a human population smaller than Texas. Australia has game populations that must be controlled to prevent starvation and environmental degradation. Australia exports hundreds of millions of dollars of meat and hides a year, harvested by commercial Australian hunters. Kangaroo hunters are being driven out of business by over-regulation driven by animal rights activists.  From
He’s probably the biggest kangaroo shooter by numbers in Australia, but making ends meet in this industry is almost impossible.

Shaun Mills operates out of Packsaddle in western NSW, but at the end of the day he’s a low-income earner although he’s at the top of his game. He shoots about 7500 kangaroos a year, when the industry average per shooter is about 5000 roos. It’s a hard, lonely life and he says he does it because he loves being out in the bush. But it’s hardly rewarding.

The low returns point to why so many shooters have left the $200m-a-year kangaroo meat industry and why no one wants to take harvesting up. The number of NSW commercial kangaroo harvesters has declined dramatically from seven years ago from approximately 900 to 380 last year (slightly up from 2016). And it’s no wonder why.

At the moment Mr Mills gets 70 cents a kilo for his kangaroo carcase, which must be male and weigh over 15kg. He reckons if he got $1 a kilo then it would be a good living. His pay each year ends up at about $53,000 before tax, and then he has all the costs of tags ($1.17 each in NSW), harvest licence (about $900), petrol, guns and bullets. Because only male kangaroos can be shot he has to move further and for longer to get his quarry. It’s no wonder the kangaroo harvest quota is never met (the quota is about 15 per cent of the kangaroo population, failing by nearly 90 per cent most years).

“The biggest problem is there is no money in it,” Mr Mills said. “You can barely make a living.”

“No young blokes want to be in it, they don’t like sitting out in bush camps with no phone service, no toilets and living pretty rough.

“Before we could harvest females and males, but now it is only bucks which forces us to travel further. Sometimes I have to go 140km from camp to find males.”All of this is done while he sees thousands of female kangaroos dying in dry creek beds and under trees from the heat and dry.
Farmers can obtain almost unlimited permits and tags to shoot kangaroos that threaten their crops. They are not limited to shooting bucks. Because regulations have limited the number of processors that can handle kangaroo carcasses, many kangaroos shot to protect crops are left to rot. It isn't worth it for farmers to attempt to process 20 or 50 kangaroos shot on a depredation hunt.

Commercial hunters like Shaun Mills handle that many kangaroos every day. They have the equipment and expertise to take the meat safely to market.  In remote locations, the meat cannot be brought to market but the skins can be saved. But regulations have forbidden hide-only hunting, even though nearly 90% of the sustainable harvest is being wasted.

Kangaroo and other animal populations are much higher than existed before European settlers developed rural and outback Australia. Stock dams, windmills and water tanks make the major difference. In Australia, the limit on wildlife carrying capacity is the availability of water during droughts.

Government regulations are too slowly changed to deal with periodic droughts, so tens of thousands of kangaroos die of heat and thirst. That is the effect of the animal rights activists. Their actions cause kangaroos to die of thirst when they could be humanely harvested.

Shauns precision rifle in the picture is missing the bolt. That is to comply with the extreme gun regulations in New South Wales. It may have been legal to have a picture taken with the bolt in the rifle, but a professional hunter cannot afford to take the risk. An animal rights activist might have complained.

Shaun is at the top of his game and the top of his profession. He has to be a superb shot, know the land, the game, and the bureaucracy to survive and harvest the thousands of animals a year necessary to make a living as a professional hunter.

There are many specific regulations on how and with what kangaroos can be shot, as I detailed in a previous article.  Governments can always shut down productive activity more easily than it can be created.  One of the restrictions is that only head shots are allowed.

One shooter reportedly lost his license, and was fined, because a kangaroo carcass with a body wound made its way into a processing facility. The tag on the carcass was traced back to the hunter, who lost his livelihood for that mistake.

Australia does not allow the harvesting of kangaroos by sport hunters.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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C. S. P. Schofield said...

All of which demonstrates the truth of something I have been saying for a while;

The first and most beneficial step in preserving stable populations of wildlife must be to establish a hunting season on animal rights ninnies.

Anonymous said...

The easiest solution to this nonsense is not the obvious one. While hunters abhor seeing animals starving to death, as well as ravaging farmland, what lowers the politicians resistance to hunting is just that. Nature will eventually overpopulate those kangaroos, so what hunters need to do is to help nature along. Feed the kangaroos. Make kangaroos so overpopulated and obnoxious that the politicians will want to cull their numbers.

Then the hunters have to band together and lobby the politicians, that either they get guarantees of long term sane hunting rules, or the hunters just won't hunt. It would really help to get lots of graphic video of kangaroos dying horribly of starvation. When you are dealing with emotionally driven dimwits, you need to drive them.

Anonymous said...

Australia is, now, virtually over-run with feral animals of all descriptions....
pigs, goats, rabbits, foxes, dogs etc.
and....the kangaroo population has also exploded to such an extent that they are, now, virtually a public menace...encroaching on outer-suburban areas and liable to cause major traffic accidents;
thirty years or so ago, the population of ferals was kept 'in check' by an army of amateur, week-end shooters.....who could, basically, shoot any-where with the most effective tools-for-the-job... hi-cap semi-auto rifles like Ruger mini-14s or, even, 22clbr s/a's;
back then: for instance: you only rarely seen foxes... see them even in those same outer-suburban areas;
the few 'professional' shooters are, quite simply, not up to the job and don't even have the appropriate tools for the job;
mean-while: Australia's natural resources are being degraded by the feral animal explosion forcing the use of toxic poisons and dubious "viruses" which are as dangerous to native wild-life as to the ferals.....
such are the fruits of John HOWARD's absolutely INSANE "gun laws"