Shooters offer feral kill service

Kate MatthewsCountryman

Professionals and retirees are helping farmers in the battle to protect livestock and native wildlife against introduced vermin such as foxes, rabbits and pigs.

They are lawyers, accountants, retirees, fly-in fly-out workers, mechanics and members of various branches of the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia.

Last week, four members of the Peel Hunting and Conservation (PHC) branch spent a week at Nyabing farmer Braden Johnston’s property shooting three to four foxes a night.

Mr Johnston said the group had been to his property five times in the last year.

“It’s great. They come in and help control our feral animal problems, ” he said. “We don’t really get a lot of time to do it ourselves, especially with a young family.”

Last year the group helped with a kangaroo population that ruined 10 hectares of canola and foxes that caused problems with the prime lamb enterprise.

Meat and Livestock Australia estimates foxes cost farmers more than $35 million a year and feral rabbits $110 million.

PHC spokesman Brian Hillman said they had culled 97 foxes, 138 rabbits, 39 feral pigs and six feral cats from farms in the first six months.

“Foxes are a prime predator as are cats, so anything we can do to reduce their impact on farms and what’s left of the wildlife, we believe has to be a good thing, ” Mr Hillman said.

“Rabbits, too, can swamp an area very quickly and while baiting is an important part of any project, shooting is a very clean, quick kill.”

Groups like PHC involved in the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia are trying to get the word out to farmers across the State that they are available to help.

Their efforts continue the work achieved by the annual Red Card for Red Fox program.

Before visiting a farm, the group needs written permission to enter and shoot as well as a map showing gates.

They then use Google maps to mark in trees and land layout and overlay it on a GPS to help when spotlighting at night.

For sneaky foxes, the group sets up hides to lure the introduced pests, such as fresh meat, or recorded calls of vixens on heat or cubs in distress depending on the time of year.

High-powered centre-fired rifles that shoot 300–400m are used.

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