NSW Game Hunting Licence Code of Practice 2022

As part of development of the proposed Game and Feral Animal Control Regulation 2022, the NSW Hunter's Code of Practice is being remade as a standalone code. This change allows the code to be approved separately by the Minister for Agriculture, as required under Section 24 of the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002.

The nature, intent and legislative duties placed on hunters through the Hunter’s Code of Practice are not changing. Only minor revisions have been made to ensure the code satisfies the current regulatory environment and meets modern drafting standards. The code continues to be a mandatory and enforceable condition of all game hunting licences.


Tell us what you think

Tell us what you think about the code by submitting your feedback to hunting.stakeholders@dpi.nsw.gov.au between Wednesday 27 July and 11:59pm Friday 26 August 2022.

Submissions must focus on the content of the code, rather than general position statements.

Read the Frequently asked questions for a comparison of the codes.


Requirements for the code

The Hunter’s Code of Practice is an important tool for hunter education and engagement as well as compliance and enforcement. It will be renamed the ‘NSW Game Hunting Licence Code of Practice’.

The intent of the code is to provide a framework to promote ethical and safe practices and not a substitute for the legislative framework relating to hunting, animal welfare and the use of firearms. It is the responsibility of the holder of a game hunting licence to be aware of and comply with all relevant provisions of legislation relating to hunting, animal welfare and the use of firearms.

The code will continue to set the standard expected of licensed hunters, for hunters themselves and the NSW community.

Compliance with mandatory provisions of the code is a condition of all NSW game hunting licences. A contravention of a mandatory provision constitutes a breach of a licence condition and may be subject to penalties up to $5,500 for each breach as well as cancellation or suspension of the licence.


NSW Game Hunting Licence Code of Practice 2022

Note— This web page contains the mandatory provisions of the code of practice for holders of game hunting licences under section 24 of the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002. The mandatory provisions only apply to the holders of game hunting licences.

Download the NSW Game Hunting Licence Code of Practice (PDF, 52.72 KB)

Purpose

The NSW Game Hunting Licence Code of Practice (the Code) defines the standards of ethical behaviour and safe practices required when hunting game animals.

The Code is established under section 24 of the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002 (the Act) and identifies the provisions that must be complied with by persons hunting game animals pursuant to a game hunting licence. Compliance with the mandatory provisions is a condition of a game hunting licence.

This Code replaces the previous Hunter’s Code of Practice that was included in Schedule 2 of the Game and Feral Animal Control Regulation 2012. This change allows the code to be approved separately by the Minister for Agriculture, as required under Section 24 of the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002.

Awareness of relevant legislation

The intent of the Code is to provide a framework to promote ethical and safe practice.

It is the responsibility of the holder of a NSW game hunting licence to be aware of and comply with all relevant provisions of legislation relating to hunting, animal welfare and the use of firearms.

Where there are inconsistencies between the Code and legislation, the legislation takes precedence.

Mandatory requirements

Everyone hunting game animals must abide by the Code. All holders of game licences must comply with the Code.

A contravention of a mandatory provision of the Code constitutes a breach of a licence condition and may be subject to penalties of up to $5,500 for each breach and cancellation or suspension of the licence (section 29 of the Act).

Code of Practice

The Code is set out in clauses 1-7, below. Each clause must be observed by persons hunting game animals pursuant to a game hunting licence. Compliance with those mandatory provisions is a condition of a game hunting licence.

1. Safe handling of firearms Where firearms are used, hunters must follow all safe use and handling practices. Game hunting licence holders must comply with the Firearms Act 1996.
2. Permission required to hunt on land A game hunting licence does not automatically authorise the holder of the licence to hunt on any land. Subject to the Game and Feral Animal Control Regulation, the holder of a NSW game hunting licence must not hunt any land without the express authority of the occupier of the land.
3. Target identification and safety The holder of a game hunting licence must not discharge a firearm or bow at a game animal if:
a. it cannot be clearly seen and identified, or
b. there is a discernible risk of injury to any person, or
c. there is a discernible risk of significant damage to any property.
4. Obligation to avoid pain and suffering The holder of a game hunting licence must:
a. not inflict any unnecessary pain or suffering on a game animal being hunted, and
b. use a firearm and ammunition or bow and arrow that is likely to achieve a humane kill of the game animal being hunted, and
c. only shoot within the reasonably accepted killing range of the firearm and ammunition or bow and arrow being used, and
d. target the game animal being hunted so that a humane kill is likely
5. Lactating females with dependent young If a holder of game hunting licence kills a lactating female game animal, the holder of the game hunting licence must make every reasonable effort to locate and humanely kill any dependent young.
6. Wounded animals If a game animal is wounded by the holder of a game hunting licence, the holder of the game hunting licence must make every reasonable effort to locate any wounded game animals and kill them quickly and humanely.
7. Use of dogs Subject to the Game and Feral Animal Control Regulation, dogs and other animals may be used while hunting only if:
a. their use is not in contravention to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979
b. their use is with the permission of the occupier of the land concerned.

Tell us what you think about the code by submitting your feedback to hunting.stakeholders@dpi.nsw.gov.au between Wednesday 27 July and 11:59pm Friday 26 August 2022.

Submissions must focus on the content of the code, rather than general position statements.


Frequently asked questions

What has changed?

Old requirement New requirementRevision
Awareness of relevant legislation
It is the responsibility of a holder of a game hunting licence holder to be aware of and comply with all relevant provisions of legislation relating to hunting, animal welfare and the use of firearms.
Awareness of relevant legislation
The intent of the Code is to provide a framework to promote ethical and safe practice. It is the responsibility of the holder of a NSW game hunting licence to be aware of and comply with all relevant provisions of legislation relating to hunting, animal welfare and the use of firearms. Where there are inconsistencies between the Code and legislation, the legislation takes precedence.
Moved to preamble
No change to intent        
Safe handling of firearms
Where firearms are used, the rules for safe handling set out in the NSW Firearms Safety Awareness Handbook published by or under the authority of the Commissioner of Police must be complied with at all times.
Safe handling of firearms
Where firearms are used, hunters must follow all safe use and handling practices. Game hunting licence holders must comply with the Firearms Act 1996.
Removal of reference to the NSW Firearms Safety Awareness Handbook, as this is no longer a standard used by the NSW Police Force. Hunters must still follow all safe use and handling practices and meet all legal obligations under the Firearms Act 1996.
Permission required to enter land
A game hunting licence does not automatically authorise the holder of the licence to hunt on any land. The holder of a game hunting licence must not hunt on any land without the express authority of the occupier of the land.
Permission required to hunt on land
A game hunting licence does not automatically authorise the holder of the licence to hunt on any land. Subject to the Game and Feral Animal Control Regulation, the holder of a NSW game hunting licence must not hunt any land without the express authority of the occupier of the land.
No change to intent or consequence for a breach of the code
Target identification and safety
A game animal must not be fired at unless it can be clearly seen and identified, and the shot taken must pose no discernible risk of injury to any person or significant damage to any property.
Target identification and safety
The holder of a game hunting licence must not discharge a firearm or bow at a game animal if:
a. it cannot be clearly seen and identified, or
b. there is a discernible risk of injury to any person, or
c. there is a discernible risk of significant damage to any property.
No change to intent or consequence for a breach of the code

Obligation to avoid suffering
An animal being hunted must not be inflicted with unnecessary pain. To achieve the aim of delivering a humane death to the hunted animal:
a. it must be targeted so that a humane kill is likely, and
b. it must be shot within the reasonably accepted killing range of the firearm and ammunition or bow and arrow being used, and
c. the firearm and ammunition, bow and arrow, or other thing used must be such as can reasonably be expected to humanely kill an animal of the target species.

Obligation to avoid pain and suffering
The holder of a game hunting licence must:
a. not inflict any unnecessary pain or suffering on a game animal being hunted, and
b. use a firearm and ammunition or bow and arrow that is likely to achieve a humane kill of the game animal being hunted, and
c. only shoot within the reasonably accepted killing range of the firearm and ammunition or bow and arrow being used, and
d. target the game animal being hunted so that a humane kill is likely.
No change to intent or consequence for a breach of the code
Lactating female with dependent young
If a lactating female is killed, every reasonable effort must be made to locate and humanely kill any dependent young.
Lactating females with dependent young
If a holder of game hunting licence kills a lactating female game animal, the holder of the game hunting licence must make every reasonable effort to locate and humanely kill any dependent young.
No change to intent or consequence for a breach of the code
Wounded animals
If an animal is wounded, the hunter must take all reasonable steps to locate it, so that it can be killed quickly and humanely.
Wounded animals
If a game animal is wounded by the holder of a game hunting licence, the holder of the game hunting licence must make every reasonable effort to locate any wounded game animals and kill them quickly and humanely.
No change to intent or consequence for a breach of the code

Use of dogs
Dogs and other animals may be used by you while hunting, but only if:
a. their use is not in contravention to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979, and
b. their use is with the permission of the occupier of the land concerned.

Use of dogs
Subject to the Game and Feral Animal Control Regulation, dogs and other animals may be used while hunting only if:
a. their use is not in contravention to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979
b. their use is with the permission of the occupier of the land concerned.
No change to intent or consequence for a breach of the code

Why can't the code stay in the Game and Feral Animal Control Regulation?

Section 24 of the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002 specifies that the responsible Minister must approve the code after a period of public comment. This is best achieved through a standalone code, in line with contemporary legal drafting practices. This does not change the legal effect of the code – it continues to be a mandatory and enforceable condition of all game hunting licences.

Why did you revise the code?

No substantive changes have been made, other than removal of reference to the NSW Firearms Safety Awareness Handbook in clause 2, which is no longer a standard used by the NSW Police Force.

The amendments do not change the nature or intent of the code, which remains a mandatory and enforceable condition of all game hunting licences.

Is there a penalty for breaches of the Code of Practice?

Yes. Section 24 of the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002 specifies that breaches of the code are an offence and subject to suspension or cancellation of a game hunting licence. Offenders may also be subject to penalties under other acts, such as the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979.


Section 24 of the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002

Section 24 provides for a code of practice, approved by the Minister, that must be complied with by persons who hold a NSW Game Hunting Licence:

24   Code of practice for licensed game hunters

1. The Minister is to approve a code of practice for the holders of game hunting licences.
2. The code is to identify the provisions that must be observed by persons hunting game animals pursuant to a game hunting licence. Compliance with those mandatory provisions is a condition of a game hunting licence.

Note—A contravention of a mandatory provision constitutes an offence (section 23) and grounds for cancellation or suspension of a licence (section 29).

(3) Before approving a code of practice the Minister is to—
(a) make the draft code publicly available, and
(b) allow a period of not less than 30 days for public comment on the draft code, and
(c) take into account any submissions duly made.