Hunters are fighting back against a coordinated international attack on hunting in NSW, after the Greens launched a campaign to "frighten the government" away from proposed new regulations for hunting on public land.
The state's Game and Feral Animal Control Regulation of 2004 is up for review, and bow hunters have requested a relaxation of a rule that treats junior archers as if they were carrying firearms.
Currently, minors hunting on public land under the R-licence system must be under the direct supervision of a licensed adult, a requirement that exists under the Firearms Act but which bow hunters, pig hunters using dogs and others not armed with rifles or shotguns argue should not apply to them.
The new rules would require parents to give their consent before minors between 12 and 18 years old are permitted to hunt unsupervised on their R-licence, without firearms. The minor would have to have their licence specifically endorsed.
The Greens have labelled the proposal "extraordinary" and led with media releases stating "children as young as twelve [will be] able to hunt unsupervised on public land using bows and arrows, hunting dogs and bowie knives".
"This is yet another example of the government playing with the safety of the public by horse-trading with the fringe right-wing Shooters Party to create an unwanted pro-gun and hunting culture here in NSW," Greens MLC David Shoebridge said.
"No one in their right mind wants to see children out by themselves stabbing animals to death after school and on the weekends."
The Shooters and Fishers Party has hit back, with Robert Brown MLC saying, "The darksiders are trying to suggest that this means 12-year-olds will be running around the bush totally unsupervised. Those of you that hunt with minors of course know that this is absolute rubbish.
"Bowhunters have asked the Game Council to put up this recommendation, because it is almost impossible to stalk into effective bow range whilst shoulder-to-jowl with a second person.
"Also, as common sense would dictate, most of the hunters that this will affect are older than the minimum 12 years. Most are in their late teens.
In the propaganda put out by the Greens, Mr Shoebridge described the Game Council, which is a statutory body, as a "state-subsidised hunting lobby group".
"The Greens have instigated an international campaign, using some of the most notorious animal rights organisations, designed to frighten the government off this proposal," Mr Brown said.
He has urged hunters to make a submission supporting the new regulations, in an effort to counter the attack by hunting's opponents.
"It really will come down to numbers. We can count on the darksiders to send in hundreds of form letters," he said.
This link includes details of the proposed regulations as well as an avenue to make a submission, which can be done by email.
"In reality, it only has to say that you support the proposed regulations," Mr Brown said.
The changes also include price hikes for all types of game hunting licence, including lifting the standard R- and G-licence annual fee from $60 to $75.
They also expand the scope for commercial hunting on public land, allow a hunter 48 hours to produce a copy of their permission to hunt on public land, and permit hunting dogs to be either on a lead or fitted with a tracking collar, among other things.