Parks Beyond Borders: Aussie Rangers Against Hunting, Floridians Find Kruger "Doable," Northern Ireland's First National Park

Northern Ireland's Benevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has been proposed to be Northern Ireland's first national park. The proposal has been floated by the Ulster Society for the Protection of the Countryside amidst a broad look at creating a first national park.

Rangers Not Happy With Hunting In Australia National Parks

The plan to permit “shooters” to help eradicate non-native species in national parks in the Australian state of New South Wales has generated considerable controversy, and perhaps predictably been criticized by park rangers.

An article by Ben Cubby in the Devonport Times said, “The first comprehensive survey of rangers and other National Parks and Wildlife Service staff, who will have to oversee the shooting program, found 95.9 per cent believe the NSW government's plan to introduce recreational hunting into 79 parks would endanger park users.”

The rangers felt that the plan to permit public hunting in parks also endangers “native animals” and existing feral animal control programs.”

The article said than more than half of the park staff was questioned and that many had '''witnessed and observed signs of unauthorised hunting in national parks,' and many gave details of dead native animals and unsafe hunting practices.'”

The park staff questioned spoke of seeing “Kangaroos shot with arrows, mutilated wallabies and emus, wombats with gunshot wounds,” and complained that introducing hunting in national parks would jeopardize park rangers. One reported having to duck to avoid gunfire.

''‘Hunters are motivated by their sport of killing animals, not protecting biodiversity by reducing feral threats. NPWS are science-based professionals motivated by the need to protect biodiversity,’'' another ranger said. The article quoted a ranger who said, they were '''concerned about increasing potential to be shot at work or visiting [the national park] - the boundaries between [the park] and other adjoining land is often complex on a map, let alone in the field. The potential for a legal shot over there to be manslaughter over here is huge.’''

Explaining the controversial change of policy, Cubby wrote, “The state government agreed to open 79 national parks and reserves for recreational hunting of feral animals as part of a deal with the Shooters and Fishers Party to win upper house support for the government's electricity privatisation legislation, which passed in June. ... The government has said parks will be closed to the public when hunts are under way, and hunting parties will be closely supervised.”

“Rangers said they were already facing staff cuts and were not trained to act as hunting guides and supervisors. ‘All this will do is put park users and NPWS staff at risk,’ one said. 'It is also likely to be quite resource-intensive to manage and regulate.’''

Florida Family’s Visit Makes Kruger National Park “Doable”

Patti Scholes of Merritt Island Florida visited South Africa’s Kruger National Park recently and wrote an article for Florida Today. She likes to travel “to exotic places like Thailand, Cambodia, Chile and Jordan,” and along with Patti’s husband Charlie and her daughter Kathy Scholes, the group discovered the wildlife of South Africa’s premier park.

It’s a long journey of course but her article shows the trip to be very doable. “Kruger National Park in South Africa is much like our own national parks,” she writes, “and reserving a bungalow, called a rondavel, can be easily accomplished online at sanparks. co.za. Just visiting the website is like taking an armchair safari, as there are photos and webcams at watering holes.” The group could actually watch wildlife from their cliff-top rondavel.

The group paid about $100 a night for the accommodations and Scholes recommends staying at “regular camps like Skukuza, Satara and, our favorite, Olifants.”

Scholes suggested, “As soon as you arrive, sign up for an evening drive with the rangers. On these drives in the dark, we spotted many animals we didn’t see in daylight...” Another insider tip covered food. “Although there is a restaurant at each camp, we found the order window next to the restaurant was more reasonable and filled all of our needs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is a refrigerator and table on each rondavel’s porch, but be sure to turn the fridge around at night, so the monkeys don’t steal your food.”

Northern Ireland May Get Its First National Park

A news story in the Londonderry Sentinel says the Ulster Society for the Protection of the Countryside (USPC) has come out in support of Northern Ireland’s first national park.

Surprisingly, the article said, “Northern Ireland is the only part of Ireland or Britain to lack an area designated as a National Park, with nine in England, three in Wales, two in Scotland and six in the Republic of Ireland.”

A year ago, Environment Minister Alex Attwood issued a report outlining the economic benefits that national parks would bestow on Northern Ireland. The article said the minister later issued a “shortlist of potential candidates ... which included the Mournes; the Causeway Coast and Antrim Glens, and the Fermanagh Lakelands.”

The recent coverage broke the news that the Ulster Society for the Protection of the Countryside are countering those suggestions saying “that the best possible location for Northern Ireland’s first National Park should include the area around Benevenagh currently designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).”

The area is on the Northern Ireland’s wild north coast northeast of Londonderry where beaches and grass covered dunes alternate with craggy skylines. Another website entry for the Benevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty says it includes the area “between the Roe Estuary and Magilligan, the cliffs of Binevenagh, the Bann Estuary and Portstewart sand dunes.”

The group said that area would be the “first and easiest option” for a National Park.

The article said the “USPC have been campaigning for a National Park for Northern Ireland for a number of years. Society Chairman Paddy McAteer outlined the group’s position on the issue of National Parks in a letter to legislators.

“Now virtually every country in the world has its own national parks system, but not so in Northern Ireland, although our near neighbours in Scotland, England, Wales and the Republic of Ireland all enjoy this privilege.

“Throughout the world national parks are recognised as assets of the highest order, and are so well known and accepted that some potential visitors might assume that because of their absence in Northern Ireland we have nothing equivalent to offer.

“The purposes for which a national park is designated are to conserve the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area and to provide for the enjoyment and understanding of its special qualities by the public. While these purposes are pursued as a prime duty, it is also necessary to foster the social and economic wellbeing of those communities within any national parks.

“The Ulster Society for the Protection of the Countryside contends that national parks have value, not only in providing recreation and improved countryside management, but also in supplying considerable benefits to local communities engaged in farming and tourism.”

Comments

Wow! I see that the National Parks are now emplying rangers with super-powers.
"One reported having to duck to avoid gunfire." Gee...great reaction time!

Nobody has yet mentioned that the National Park Services enlisted the assistance of a party of twenty members of the Sporting Shooter's Association of Australia to cull a huge population of feral goats in the Flinder's Ranges national park some years ago. The score? More than two thousand of the pesky critters...and we saved the yellow-footed rock-wallaby from extinction.
Some people have short memories.

Jim Davies.

The survey Cubby quoted from expressed the opinions of rangers and tried to link illegal activity with a legitimate, regulated activity. It was part of a campaign to resist the introduction of hunting to national parks, so it was a irresponsible of him to report it the way he did. At this stage, no one knows whether or not rangers "will have to oversee the shooting program" because the guidelines for how hunting will be conducted and controlled are the subject of cabinet-in-confidence discussions. If hunting occurs in the same way it does in NSW state forests, rangers will not have to oversee anyone or anything.

News just in: Shooters to escape park rangers' sights

NO EXTRA staff or money will be added to monitor hunters who have been given access by the state government to shoot in national parks from Australia Day.

When Barry O'Farrell announced shooters would be allowed into 79 parks in May, the Premier insisted the feral cull would be ''well-managed, properly resourced and carried out under strict supervision''.

The Environment Minister, Robyn Parker, told Parliament the overhaul of the Game and Feral Animal Control Act was not about ''letting people out into parks and reserves without supervision, without control and without proper management.''

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/shooters-to-escape-park-rangers-sights-20121110-294we.html#ixzz2BzXmZoJ7