Redeclaration of State forests for hunting

On Friday 10 November 2023, a notice to declare certain NSW State forests for hunting was published in the NSW Government Gazette in accordance with Section 20 of the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002 and Section 23 of the Game and Feral Animal Control Regulation 2022.

The final declaration notice was signed by the Minister and published in the NSW Government Gazette on Friday 19 January 2024. 351 State Forests have been redeclared for hunting of game animals from 1 February 2024 to 1 February 2034. Seven State forests were not redeclared due to changes in tenure, management status and urban sprawl.

You can:

Before declaring public lands as available for hunting, the Minister responsible considered:

  • the impact on public safety
  • the rights of others using the land
  • any plan of management or other policy document relating to the use or management of the land, and
  • any recommendation of FCNSW or the Regulatory Authority (delegated to NSW DPI).

About recreational hunting on declared public land

Safety and rights of other public land users

Recreational hunting on public land has occurred safely for over 17 years (since 2006) with no major injuries or deaths.

The activity is risk assessed to international standards and reviewed every year to ensure its continued effectiveness.

Safe and responsible hunting on public land is administered through:

Legislative requirements:

  • public land must be declared for hunting
  • hunters must hold a current NSW Restricted Game Hunting Licence (R-Licence) and carry the licence with them at all times
  • before qualifying for an R-Licence, individuals must complete a comprehensive accreditation course, including training on written permissions, navigation and State forest signage, and be a member of a hunting club or organisation that is approved by NSW DPI
  • when applying, hunters must complete comprehensive declarations around previous offences to ensure only fit and proper persons may be authorised to hunt on public lands
  • minor hunters must be supervised by a fully licensed hunter
  • licence holders must comply with NSW Game Hunting Licence Code of Practice, which provides important principles related to hunting, animal welfare and the use of firearms
  • no hunting without permission – written permission must be obtained through NSW DPI
  • licence holders must comply with licence conditions that are specific to hunting on declared public land and include rules around the use of motor vehicles and hunting dogs.

22 general written permission conditions, including:

  • carry a GPS-enabled device containing approved hunting maps that display the hunting and exclusion areas
  • wear an item of blaze orange externally on the upper part of the body
  • rules for transporting firearms and other hunting equipment.

Other measures such as:

  • conditions specific to certain State forests
  • notification signage at major forest entrances
  • compliance, enforcement and intelligence activities
  • exclusion of hunting from recreational facilities such as mountain bike complexes, picnic areas and some camping grounds
  • exclusion of hunting from FCNSW operational activities.

Use and management of the land

As the land manager, FCNSW ensures that legal hunting is administrated within plans of management and other requirements for timber harvesting arrangements. DPI Hunting works closely with FCNSW to ensure all legislative and policy objectives are balanced between recreational hunting and sustainable land management of NSW State forests. This includes regular meetings of an inter-agency working group.

Settings to ensure this balance include:

  • assigning a category to declared forests that indicates its suitability for hunting
  • closing and opening declared forests to hunting according to operational or other reasons
  • producing quarterly hunting maps, provided by FCNSW, for licence holders to download from NSW DPI, showing areas where hunting is available or excluded
  • requiring R-Licence holders to hold written permission to hunt, granted through an online booking system that ensures only declared and open forests are available to book
  • ensuring adequate separation between forest workers and hunters though awareness, processes and procedures.

List of redeclared State forests

Airly, Albert, Attunga, Avon River, Awaba, Bachelor, Back Creek, Back Yamma, Badja, Bagawa, Bago, Balgay, Ballengarra, Banyabba, Baradine, Barcoongere, Barrington Tops, Belanglo, Bellangry, Ben Bullen, Benandarah, Benbraggie, Bermagui, Bibblewindi, Billapaloola, Billilimbra, Bimbi, Bingara, Binya, Blenheim, Blow Clear West, Boambee, Bodalla, Bolaro, Bom Bom, Bombala, Bonalbo, Bondi, Bondo, Boona, Boonanghi, Boonoo, Boorabee, Boorook, Boundary Creek, Bourbah, Bowman, Boyben, Boyne, Braemar, Brassey, Breeza, Bretts, Bril Bril, Broken Bago, Brother, Bruces Creek, Buckenbowra, Buckingbong, Buckra Bendinni, Bulahdelah, Bulbodney, Bulga, Bulls Ground, Bungabbee, Bungawalbin, Bungongo, Burrawan, Butterleaf, Bylong, Cairncross, Camira, Campbells Island, Canbelego, Candole, Canobolas, Carabost, Carawandool, Cargelligo, Carrai, Carwong, Cathcart, Chaelundi, Cherry Tree, Chichester, Clandulla, Clive, Clouds Creek, Clyde, Collombatti, Comboyne, Comleroy, Conapaira East, Conapaira South, Coneac, Conglomerate, Coolangubra, Coomore Creek, Coopernook, Cope, Copeton, Coricudgy, Corrabare, Corringle, Cowal, Cowarra, Craigie, Culgoora, Cumbil, Cumbine, Curraburrama, Currambene, Currowan, Dalmorton, Dampier, Diehappy, Dingo, Divines, Dog Rocks, Doona, Doubleduke, Doyles River, Dungeree, East Boyd, East Cookeys Plains, Ellangowan, Ellis, Enfield, Essington, Etoo, Euglo South, Euligal, Eurabba, Ewingar, Flat Rock, Forest Land, Fosterton, Fullers, Ganmain, Gibberagee, Gibraltar Range, Gilgunnia, Gilgurry, Gillenbah, Gilwarny, Girard, Girilambone, Giro, Gladstone, Glen Allen, Glen Elgin, Glenbog, Glenugie, Glenwood, Gnupa, Grahway, Grange, Green Hills, Gunningbland, Gurnang, Hampton, Hanging Rock, Heaton, Hyland, Ingalba, Ingebirah, Irishman, Jacks Creek, Jellore, Jenolan, Johns River, Kalateenee, Kandos, Kangaroo River, Kerewong, Kerringle, Kew, Keybarbin, Kippara, Kiwarrak, Knorrit, Koondrook, Lachlan Range, Lansdowne, Leard, Lester, Lidsdale, Lorne, Lower Bucca, Lower Creek, Lowes Mount, Malara, Manna, Mannus, Maragle, Marara, Marengo, Maria River, Masseys Creek, Matong, McDonald, McPherson, Mejum, Merrinele, Merriwindi, Meryla, Miandetta, Micalong, Middle Brother, Minnon, Mistake, Mogo, Momo, Moogem, Moonpar, Moruya, Mount Belmore, Mount Boss, Mount David, Mount Marsh, Mount Mitchell, Mount Nobby, Mount Pikapene, Mount Tilga, Mount Topper, Mullions Range, Mulyandry, Mumbulla, Mundaroo, Murda, Murraguldrie, Murrah, Myall River, Myrtle, Nadgee, Nalbaugh, Nambucca, Nana Creek,  Nangerybone, Narraway, Nerang Cowal, Nerong, Neville, Newfoundland, Newry, North Branch, North Brooman, Nowendoc, Nowra, Nulla-Five Day, Nullica, Nullo Mountain, Nundle, Nungatta, Nymboida, Oakes, Oakwood, Olney, Orara East, Orara West, Orr, Ourimbah, Palmer, Pappinbarra, Parkhurst, Pennsylvania, Perricoota, Pilliga East, Pilliga West, Pine Brush, Pine Creek, Pokolbin, Pullabooka, Putty, Queens Lake, Quegobla, Ramornie, Ravensworth, Red Hill, Riamukka, Roseberg, Roses Creek, Royal Camp, Sandgate, Scotchman, Severn, Shallow Crossing, Sheas Nob, South Brooman, Southgate, Spring Ridge, Stewarts Brook, Strahorn, Styx River, Sugarloaf, Sunny Corner, Tabbimoble, Tailby, Talgong, Tallaganda, Tallegar, Tamban, Tanja, Tantawangalo, Taratta, Tarkeeth, Termeil, Terrible Billy, Thorndale, Thumb Creek, Timbillica, Tomalla, Torrington, Tottenham, Towamba, Tuckers Nob, Tuckland, Tuggolo, Tumut, Turon, Uffington, Upsalls Creek, Vickery, Viewmont, Vittoria, Vulcan, Wallaroo, Wallingat, Wandella, Wandera, Wang Wauk, Warraderry, Washpool, Watagan, Way Way, Weddin, Wedding Bells, Wee Jasper, Weelah, Wharfdale, Whiporie, Wild Cattle Creek, Wingello, Wittenbra, Woomargama, Wyrra, Yadboro, Yambulla, Yarratt, Yerriyong, Yessabah.

Frequently asked questions

358 State forests have been declared for hunting since 2014. The current declarations will expire on Saturday 3 February 2024. This redeclaration simply continues the existing arrangements for recreational hunting on public land that have occurred since 2006.

The Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002 (section 20) has a requirement that for legal recreational hunting to occur on public land, it must be declared first.

The decision to declare can only be made after a 30-day public notice period by the Minister who is responsible for the public lands.

351 NSW State forests were redeclared.

You can:

All of these State forests were already declared for hunting. There are no new areas on the list.

Seven previously declared State forests were not redeclared due to changes in tenure, management status and urban sprawl.

The table below lists each forest and the reason it was not redeclared.

KinrossPeri-urban (Orange); high recreational use
MedowieMajority transfer to National Parks
NewnesTransfer to National Parks - Gardens of Stone
PenrosePeri-urban (Sydney); high recreational and commercial use
WilbertroyTransfer to National Parks
WolganTransfer to National Parks - Gardens of Stone
YathongTransfer to National Parks

As the land manager of NSW State forests, FCNSW balances recreational hunting with other forest uses such as commercial timber harvesting, fire management, pest and weed management and other recreational and primary production uses.

Declared forests may be opened or closed to licensed hunters based on these uses and also due to natural disasters such as bushfires or flooding. An FCNSW and DPI Hunting working group meet regularly to proactively assess areas where recreational hunting can be safely allowed.

NSW State forests are working forests as well as community spaces for a range of recreational activities. FCNSW excludes areas around their forestry operations and recreational facilities, among others, to ensure hunting is carried out safely and according to the risk assessment.

FCNSW is the land manager of most State forests in NSW. FCNSW have many responsibilities to manage and use the land to benefit the NSW community.

Under NSW hunting legislation, the Regulatory Authority is able to licence individuals for certain types of hunting, and to manage public land hunting on behalf of the land manager.

The Regulatory Authority is the Secretary of the Department of Regional NSW. Functions and responsibilities of the Regulatory Authority under the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002 and its Regulation 2022 are delegated to DPI Hunting.

DPI Hunting works closely with FCNSW to ensure recreational hunting on public land is carried out safely and responsibly by suitably licensed individuals.

Individuals must hold a NSW Restricted Game Hunting Licence (R-Licence) before they can apply for written permission to hunt on declared land.

Before they qualify for an R-Licence, hunters must:

Once a hunter qualifies, they must apply to DPI Hunting for an R-Licence. They are required to complete a series of declaration questions relating to any offences they may have been found guilty of in the previous 10 years. The R-Licence declarations ensure the high-standard of individuals who are licensed to hunt on public land and that they are fit and proper persons.

Hunting is a safe, recreational activity that occurs alongside many other users in State forests. Hunting on public land is risk assessed to international standards and reviewed every year to ensure its effectiveness.

Hunter rules

Only hunters who hold a NSW Restricted Game Hunting Licence (R-Licence) and written permission to hunt may enter public lands with hunting equipment.

Code of practice

All licence holders must comply with the NSW Game Hunting Licence Code of Practice. The code sets out important principles relating to hunting, animal welfare and the use of firearms. Licence holders are subject to severe penalties for breaches of the code.

Other rules

As well as licence conditions that are set out in hunting legislation, licensed hunters must comply with 22 general written permission conditions for public land hunting, including:

  • carry a GPS-enabled device containing approved hunting maps that display the hunting and exclusion areas
  • wear an item of blaze orange externally on the upper part of the body
  • rules for transporting firearms and other hunting equipment.

Hunters holding a NSW R-Licence may only hunt non-indigenous species that are listed in Schedule 1 of the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002 on public land. The species must also be shown on their written permission for a particular forest to be legally hunted:

  • Deer
  • Pig
  • Goat
  • Rabbit
  • Hare
  • Cat
  • Dog (not dingo).

Native animals must not be hunted on public land.

Please report all illegal hunting incidents to DPI Hunting as soon as possible so we may investigate. It is helpful if you can provide as much detail as possible, such as car registration plates and other identifying information.