The DPI Game Licensing Unit is responsible for the administration of public land hunting in NSW. This includes hunter licensing, hunter education, assessing compliance of game hunters and enforcing hunting regulations.
The Public land hunting community awareness campaign provides information for the public and users of NSW State forests about legal hunting on public land in NSW and how it is managed.
Legal hunting can occur on public land that has been 'declared' for hunting by the Minister for Primary Industries. There are signs at the entrance to State forests and other public lands that are open for hunting which advise forest users that licensed hunting may be undertaken in the area.
The Game Licensing Unit works closely with local communities, public land managers, the NSW Police Force and other agencies to regulate licensed hunting and deter illegal hunting on public land in NSW.
Hunters share State forests with many other users, such as trail bike riders, mushroom pickers and bushwalkers, as well as forestry staff and contractors. In addition, State forests are often surrounded by local properties and houses. At July 2017, over 132,762 hunting days have occurred on public land in NSW without serious incident.
State forests are working forests which are managed by the Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW). The forests accommodate a range of recreational activities, primary production such as grazing and apiary, and timber harvesting. FCNSW carefully balances community access and environmental management with operations to supply timber to the NSW economy. Recreational hunting is a mutually beneficial part of this balance.
While hunting in State forests is primarily a recreational pursuit and does not form a formal part of the FCNSW pest control program, licensed hunters have removed almost 144,000 game and feral animals from declared State forests since March 2006.
Public land hunting regulations in NSW are some of the most stringent in Australia, and internationally.
Hunters require a NSW Restricted Game Hunting Licence (R-Licence) to hunt on declared public land. To obtain an R-licence, hunters must successfully pass an open book test based on hunter safety, ethics, animal welfare and hunting techniques and be a member of an Approved Hunting Organisation (AHO) which has a constitution and a disciplinary framework for its members.
An individual wishing to hunt with a firearm must also have completed theoretical and practical firearms licence assessment requirements prescribed by the NSW Police Force, or their equivalent.
Before they are able to hunt on public land, R-Licence holders must complete extra training on navigation and conditions of their permission to hunt, and they must read and understand an advisory on signs they may come across in NSW State forests.
Forestry Corporation completed the first risk assessment of hunting in State forests in 2005 and it is reviewed and updated each year.
The risk assessment was completed to international risk management standards and was informed by a stakeholder reference group containing risk management experts and representatives from a range of stakeholder groups such as the Crown Solicitors Office, NSW Government agencies and workplace unions.