Regulated hunting activities generate a range of social and economic benefits for NSW. In 2019–20, hunters spent an estimated $1,406 million on hunting related activities and products.
The combination of drought and NSW bushfires saw an increase of pest animals on properties within NSW in 2019-20 including rabbits, foxes, pigs, goats, deer, hares, feral cats and wild dogs (excluding dingoes). The drought also saw large populations of kangaroos moving to farming land and rural community areas.
These pest animals can cause damage to properties, compete with livestock for water and feed and decimate crops which can have a serious impact on NSW primary producers 74. They can also have devastating effects on native animals and ecosystems.
Hunting is recognised as important tool in the management of game and feral animals and as a legitimate recreational pursuit 67.
Hunters also play an important role on the front line of biosecurity to detect and prevent the spread of animal disease such as looking for signs of African Swine Fever (no occurrences as yet in Australia) and identifying serious non-native invasive pests and weeds such as parthenium in NSW 67,68.
Hunting can also provide extensive social benefits to participants who engage in active outdoor recreation with family and friends, harvest clean organic meat and reconnect with the land and the natural world.
Hunters must complete the R-Licence Accreditation Course before they can apply for a NSW Restricted Game Hunting Licence (R-Licence).
This course is run locally by community trainers from hunting clubs and retailers as part of the Hunter Learning, Education and Accreditation Program (LEAP).
Due to COVID-19 restrictions the course is now offered via video conferencing to people in the comfort of their own home while still offering the same level of support from trainers.
Eight members were appointed to the Game and Pest Management Advisory Board in August 2020 through to 2025.
The Board represents the interests of licensed hunters and provides advice to the Minister and DPI on important matters relating to hunting and game and pest animal management in NSW.
The Board members possess a broad range of expertise from wildlife, pest and sustainable land management, through to project management and policy formation.
The DPI in conjunction with NSW Police and other Government agencies regulate hunting in NSW through community engagement and strong strategic partnerships.
Hunting in NSW can be carried out on private or public land, provided the hunter holds an appropriate licence, where applicable and only if permission to hunt has been issued by the landholder or manager.
Before a hunter can apply for a NSW Restricted Game Hunting Licence (R-Licence) to hunt on public land they must complete the R-Licence Accreditation Course. The R-Licence Accreditation Course is run locally by community trainers from hunting clubs and hunting or outdoor retailers, as part of the Hunter Learning, Education and Accreditation Program (LEAP).
COVID-19 restrictions led to all hunting in NSW State Forests being suspended from mid-night Monday 6 April 2020 and resumed Friday 8 May 2020. This included a suspension of hunting bookings and the cancellation of the then current and future written permissions from mid-night Monday 6 April 2020.
Upon lifting the suspension R-Licence holders had their licences extended for four weeks, the same period public land hunting was suspended. A pro-rata refund was made available for people who did not want to renew their licences which had lapsed during the suspension timeline 67.
The NSW DPI Game Licensing Unit regulates hunting in NSW in conjunction with NSW Police. A range of programs are administered to ensure hunting in NSW is conducted safely, ethically and sustainably.
The programs include licensing, communications, stakeholder engagement, education and awareness, wildlife management and compliance and enforcement.