RSPCA South Australia is surprised and alarmed that a move to ban the use of bows and crossbows to hunt feral animals excludes animals on private land, where the recreational activity often takes place.
The Department of Environment and Water (DEW) has been tasked with implementing the ban, which will not apply to “landholders, family members or an agent of a landholder” wishing to destroy a “species not protected by the NPW Act that are causing damage to crops, stock or other property on the land”.1
The decision to leave animals on private land exposed to the inhumane killing method ignores the State Government’s pre-election promise to RSPCA SA and its supporters that Labor would –
“..ensure that best practice, humane control and killing techniques are in place for animals considered pests.”
The most humane, government-recognised method for the killing of most feral species is a head-shot from a high-powered rifle.2 (Surveys of deer hunters have found that deer shot with bows are approximately six times more likely to be wounded and escape than deer shot by professional shooters with rifles.3)
Australian Codes of Practice for the humane destruction of animals (feral and otherwise) never recommend the use of bows or crossbows.
RSPCA South Australia has dismissed the current planned ban as pointless, and is calling on the State Government to extend the ban to animals being killed on private land.
“For most people who hunt animals with bows and crossbows, it will be business as usual once this ineffective ban comes into place,” said RSPCA SA’s Animal Welfare Advocate Dr Rebekah Eyers.
“This is a recreational activity that takes place far from the public eye, meaning no-one but the hunter is there to witness the suffering. “Even when carried out by a competent marksman, it does not result in a rapid and humane death. Fatally hit animals experience severe pain for several minutes from the tissue and organ damage caused where the arrow enters their body.
“It is not ethical to use a less humane method of killing when a more humane method is available.
“The government promised only humane/best practice killing methods would be used on pest animals. If landholders can continue using bow and arrows to kill animals on their property – then this promise has been broken. We urge government to amend this reform to include animals on private property.”
RSPCA South Australia recognises the marksmanship of skilled bow and crossbow enthusiasts but believes a recreational activity that involves shooting arrows into live animals is not a practice supported by the general community.
Tradition should never serve as an excuse for cruelty – arrows are for targets, not animals.