Recreational hunters are, or have been, permitted under strict controls in specified national parks in Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia. In all states, most national parks and reserves are closed to hunting at all times.
In Victoria, sambar and hog deer can be hunted in a number of parks during a specified calendar period (i.e. ‘open season’) but dogs must not be used. In a small number of parks declared species of ducks and quail can also be hunted, and dogs can be used to flush and retrieve birds. In Lake Albacutya Park hunting of pest animals such as rabbits, foxes and cats is permitted.
In Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia, recreational hunters have participated in shooting programs to kill foxes and feral goats, cats and pigs. In these states there is no unrestricted recreational hunting in national parks, and hunters are only used as part of planned pest control programs under the administration of statutory authorities responsible for the management of national parks and reserves.
In 2015, the WA government rejected a plan to trial recreational shooting in national parks due to public safety concerns, lack of evidence to support the claim that recreational hunting is effective in managing pest animals, animal welfare issues and the considerable resources required to administer such a program.
In 2014, the New South Wales government commenced a three year trial permitting volunteer licensed hunters to shoot declared pest animal species including goats, foxes and rabbits in 12 national parks and reserves across the State. Shooters are under the direction of parks and wildlife officers but no assessment of shooting accuracy is required to participate in the program.
The RSPCA opposes recreational hunting, or the act of stalking or pursuing an animal and then killing it for sport, due to the inherent and inevitable pain and suffering caused.