Thursday, April 16, 2009

Top End plan to allow safari hunting for crocodiles

SAFARI hunters would be able to kill 25 crocodiles bigger than 3.5m in five years under a draft management plan released today.Stressing that the plan was not in response to recent crocodile attacks in the Top End, the Northern Territory Government said it long supported controlled safari hunting and urged federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett to approve the plan. The Government said it wanted Aborigines to benefit from safari hunting but the industry doubts there would be any benefit with such a small quota. Releasing the draft five-year management plan today, NT Environment Minister Alison Anderson admitted: "We live in a croc-infested territory. "We should not be under any illusion that any kind of consultation or management plan would have stopped any attack. "They will kill today, they killed yesterday and they will kill tomorrow." Mr Garrett will not be giving his thoughts on the matter at least for another six weeks, after public submissions have been received. The plan would require hunters to work with professional hunting guides. They would need to prove to Parks and Wildlife officers they could shoot straight before being permitted to kill an animal. Crocodiles are listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) treaty, to which Australia is signatory. Crocodile products can only be exported with a CITES permit, which are issued by Mr Garrett's department. Foreign hunters, who are likely to pay most, will not come unless they can take trophies home. It has not been outlined how individual permits would be allocated to safari organisers if Mr Garrett approved the concept. However, it is conceivable permits could be auctioned on the international market. Matt Graham from Hunt Australia, which takes mostly foreign big-game hunters out to Arnhem Land chasing buffalo trophies, supported the proposal but was doubtful Mr Garrett would be on side. "This plan has been presented five times before. I can't see Peter Garrett doing it. The only way it will happen is if Aboriginal guys put pressure on him," Mr Graham said. "Even then, 25 animals is not enough. It should have been 25 per year over five years. "There's a lot of interest in this. There's been worldwide media coverage and it's got the hunters stirred up. People want to get on board. But it's going to cost a sh..load of money."

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