On the 1st of May 2024, the Queensland Government opened a consultation period for stakeholders to submit their thoughts on the "Queensland Invasive Plants and Animals Strategy 2025-2030".

This is a topic that is very close to us, and as a Queensland stakeholder, we have decided to make a submission to this proposal. 

Without further preamble, here is our submission:

Have your say on the Queensland Invasive Plants and Animals Strategy 2025–2030

Proposal: Include recreational hunting as a valid integrated pest management tool and open public lands to hunting


Queensland’s rich biodiversity and vibrant agricultural industry face significant threats from invasive plants and animals, posing risk to the environment, agriculture, the economy, and social amenity. The Draft Queensland Invasive Plants and Animals Strategy 2025-2030 acknowledges the urgent need for comprehensive action to address these challenges. The Strategy emphasises the General Biosecurity Obligation and the responsibility shared by all stakeholders, including landowners, industries, communities, and governments to have a collaborative approach to invasive species management. As Queenslanders strive to achieve conservation goals, it is time to consider innovative solutions from across the country. 

In this context, we propose the state takes into serious consideration integrating recreational hunting into the strategy as a valid tool for effective pest management. Queensland could utilise the expertise and eagerness of recreational hunters to enhance its efforts to control invasive species populations. By following the lead from other states, Queensland could open its applicable public land to the large pool of licensed and willing individuals to reduce a significant threat to Australia’s biodiversity. 

All Queenslanders deserve to have the opportunity to contribute to Queensland’s biosecurity and pest management. Let's explore how.

Proof of effectiveness

Ground-shooting as a valid pest reduction tool

To prove the effectiveness of utilising the recreational hunting community, it is essential to assess the efficacy of ground-based shooting methods. Firearms can yield optimal results in achieving a human kill when used with precision and paired with suitable ammunition. While state governments generally dictate certain criteria, responsible hunters often establish personal guidelines to ensure ethical hunting practices. Moreover, when appropriately planned and executed in suitable environments, ground-based shooting initiatives can effectively manage overpopulation of problematic wildlife species. A comparative analysis between contracted and volunteer shooters reveals noteworthy cost disparities, with contracted shooters incurring a 75% higher expenditure for only a 55% increase in effectiveness. This does not consider that the state will be able to draw from a large continuous pool of volunteers year round, as opposed to sporadic use of contractors when funding is available. This variance in effectiveness is also largely influenced by various factors, including access to specialised equipment such as self-loading firearms and suppressors, which are unavailable to recreational hunters due to legal constraints.

Recreational hunting drives prove effectiveness

In early 2024, a small hunting drive aimed at reducing foxes, Foxtastic 2024, achieved impressive results. 48 recreational hunters, across every state, on private property, and over the course of 2 nights, eliminated 172 foxes, 33 cats, 12 pigs, 3 deer, and approximately 10 rabbits and hares. Using numbers from research estimating the numbers killed by foxes and cats each year, this hunting drive saved an estimated 10,865 reptiles, 13,530 birds, and 45,305 mammals. Recreational hunting should be considered a valid tool as part of integrated pest management.

Recreational hunting contributes to deer population suppression in Victoria

Recreational hunters play a significant role in pest management efforts, with their success closely linked to the level of hunting activity they undertake. Motivated by their commitment to conservation objectives, hunters are inclined to invest greater effort into their hunting endeavours, highlighting the importance of educational outreach initiatives. Moreover, the expansion of the hunting community itself contributes to increased hunting activity and pressure on pest populations. While determining the precise number of recreational hunters in Queensland poses challenges, insights from the Victorian Game Management Authority (Vic GMA) underscore the potential for growth within the hunting community. Over an 11-year period spanning from 2009 to 2019, the number of licensed deer hunters in Victoria surged from 16,193 to 41,985, marking a notable 7.9% annual increase in deer hunting endorsements. This trend continued into 2021, with licensed deer hunters reaching 49,857, reflecting a substantial 20% rise within a mere two-year timeframe. Correspondingly, deer harvest soared by 49% above the long-term average since 2009, underscoring the significant contribution of recreational hunting to population management efforts. 

While concerns persist regarding the efficacy of recreational hunting alone in curbing deer populations, the hunting community advocates for its integration into broader pest management strategies. Drawing parallels from Victoria’s deer management initiatives, where an estimated 1,000,000 deer populate the landscape, recreational hunting serves as a pivotal demographic indicator in the absence of comprehensive population data. In 2021, Victorian hunters harvested approximately 118,800 deer across all species, with Sambar (Rusa unicolor) comprising nearly 58% of the total harvest. This extrapolation suggests a Sambar deer population of approximately 579,000, with recreational hunting contributing to the removal of nearly 12% of this population. The Sambar intrinsic rate of population increase is estimated to be between 15-24%, and needs an annual harvest of 13-19% to maintain a stable population, meaning that recreational hunting of Sambar deer in Victoria removes 62-91% of the necessary numbers required to maintain a stable population. While this doesn’t induce a population decline, it proves that recreational hunting alone can be considered a significant tool in integrated pest management.

Victoria - public land hunting as managed by the Victorian Game Management Authority

Public land hunting in Victoria operates within a well-defined regulatory framework overseen by the Victoria Game Management Authority (Vic GMA). The Vic GMA is responsible for the management and administration of public land hunting and is a statutory body responsible for regulating hunting activities across the state, and reports to the Victorian Minister of Outdoor Recreational for the exercise of its functions. To participate in public land hunting, individuals must obtain a valid Game Licence and, if targeting deer, hold a specific deer hunting permit endorsed by the GMA. These permits outline the conditions and restrictions associated with hunting on public land, including designated hunting areas, permissible hunting methods, and seasonal restrictions. 

Hunting on public land is executed through a combination of designated hunting zones, managed by the Victorian Government’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), and collaborative efforts between the GMA and various stakeholders. These designated areas are carefully selected based on ecological considerations, wildlife management objectives, public safety, and an overarching viewpoint on the idea that public land belongs to the public. Additionally, hunters are required to adhere to strict codes of conduct and ethical hunting practices to minimise environmental impact and ensure sustainable wildlife management outcomes. 

Hunters who obtain the appropriate licence are then granted authority to hunt on public lands, ranging from state-owned forests to selected National Parks. The State provides a range of maps that allows hunters to ensure they are in authorised areas, and the GMA provides enforcement through its Compliance and Intelligence division. Funds raised through hunting licences allows for the Research division of the GMA to conduct research into the environment, health, and conservation through hunting. 

The outcomes of public land hunting in Victoria are multifaceted, encompassing ecological, recreational, and socio-economic dimensions. From an ecological perspective, hunting plays a crucial role in managing wildlife populations, particularly deer, which have become overabundant in some regions. By contributing to the removal of deer, at no cost to the state, hunters help mitigate the impacts of deer on native vegetation, agricultural crops, and biodiversity. Recreational hunters also derive enjoyment and fulfilment from engaging in outdoor pursuits, fostering a connection with nature and promoting physical and mental well-being. Furthermore, hunting activities contribute to local economies through expenditure on equipment, accommodation, and associated services, supporting rural communities and tourism initiatives. Overall, public land hunting in Victoria represents a balanced approach to wildlife management that integrates conservation, recreation, and economic considerations for the benefit of both humans and the environment. Queensland would do well by looking across the nation and adopting the learnings of other states.

New South Wales successfully introduced hunting in public lands

Public land hunting in New South Wales is regulated and overseen by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) through the Game Licensing Unit. The adoption and implementation of public land hunting have been guided by the NSW Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002, which provides the legal framework for hunting activities across the state. Under this legislation, individuals must hold a valid Game Hunting Licence to engage in hunting on public land, which can be obtained through the DPI’s online licensing system. Additionally, hunters need to be endorsed for specific methods of hunting, such as bowhunting, using firearms, pig-dogging, or using blackpowder firearms. 

The management of public land hunting areas in NSW is typically coordinated by the relevant land management agencies, such as the DPI or Forestry Corporation NSW. These agencies work closely together to designate hunting zones and establish rules and regulations for hunting activities. Hunters are required to undergo testing before applying for their licence, and must adhere to specific rules and conditions applicable to each hunting area. 

The public land is specific state forests owned by NSW and managed by Forestry NSW, generally for logging purposes. As these forests create conditions ripe for invasive species to flourish, the NSW Government has found good success by utilising recreational hunters to contribute to feral population suppression. To access public land hunting areas, hunters must book through the DPI’s online booking system. This system allows hunters to reserve their preferred hunting locations and dates in advance, while allowing the DPI to manage the amount of hunters in any given area at any given time. By implementing a structured booking system, NSW effectively manages hunting pressure on public land and promotes responsible hunting practices among the community.

Queensland has the ability to learn from their neighbouring state and trial a similar system, a system which has contributed to the State’s biosecurity and economy.

How recreational hunting on public land addresses posed challenges

The Draft Strategy poses a number of challenges that relate to managing invasive plants and animals in Queensland, and this proposal will show how introducing recreational hunting into public lands will be able to address some of these challenges.

Protecting high value biodiversity and ecologically sensitive areas - Bridging ownership and coordination gaps

Introducing public land hunting in Queensland presents an opportunity to address the challenge of protecting high-value biodiversity and ecologically sensitive areas by leveraging hunters as a tool for targeted pest management. By strategically deploying hunters to areas with known invasive species populations, such as national parks or wildlife reserves, the state can mitigate the impact of pests on native flora and fauna while minimising disruption to sensitive ecosystems. Additionally, public land hunting can help bridge ownership and coordination gaps by fostering collaboration between government agencies, landowners, and the hunting community, thereby enhancing communication and resource sharing for more effective pest control efforts.

Data gaps

Furthermore, public land hunting initiatives have the potential to contribute valuable data to address existing data gaps related to invasive species management. Hunters can serve as on-the-ground observers, reporting sightings and population trends of target species, which can inform decision-making processes and guide future conservation strategies. Moreover, by actively involving hunters in monitoring and data collection efforts, Queensland can capitalise on the knowledge and expertise of the hunting community to enhance overall surveillance and management of invasive plants and animals.

This system is utilised by New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. The DPI requires all hunters to submit a hunting take report after their booking period. This helps inform the DPI of feral animal numbers in each forest. Queensland should learn from other states.

Limited resources - Public awareness and engagement

In terms of addressing limited resources, public land hunting offers a cost-effective solution for invasive species management by mobilising volunteer hunters to assist with pest control efforts. By harnessing the passion and dedication of recreational hunters, Queensland can expand its capacity for invasive species control without significant financial investment. Additionally, public land hunting programs can help raise public awareness and engagement around the importance of invasive species management, fostering a sense of stewardship among hunters and the broader community while promoting responsible hunting practices and conservation ethics. Queensland could go so far as to make good biosecurity practices, invasive weed identification, and the importance of removing invasive species as part of the licensing education requirements.

Further benefits

Volunteer biosecurity ambassadors

As mentioned, the Australian recreational hunting demographic is quite large and would be welcoming to being able to hunt in Queensland’s public lands. As such, Queensland would now potentially have hundreds of thousands of extra volunteers willing to help out in other ways. Whilst out hunting, hunters often report on other issues on the properties they are hunting on. These include downed fences, broken infrastructure, and importantly for this topic; environmental issues. With the proper education and extension program in place, the State could use public land hunters to report on certain weeds of national significance and/or new incursions.

Contributions to the economy

The economic significance of recreational hunting should not be underestimated, as it makes a substantial contribution to both national and local economies. Unlike contract shooters or employed pest controllers, recreational hunters do not receive compensation but still play a vital role in stimulating economic activity. According to a nationwide survey conducted in 2014 on Australian recreational hunters' expenditures and motivations, the average annual direct expenditure per hunter on hunting activities amounted to $1,835, with an additional indirect contribution of $2,168, resulting in a total economic impact exceeding $1 billion. Subsequent estimates for the 2019-2020 period revealed an even greater annual contribution, surpassing $2.4 billion to the national economy. In Victoria alone, recreational hunting contributes approximately $365 million annually and supports 3,138 jobs. This economic impact underscores the importance of recreational hunters, especially considering that while both contract and volunteer shooters incur costs per unit eradicated, recreational hunters make a positive contribution per unit eradicated.

Queensland should learn from other states.


Implementation into Queensland does not have to be overnight. New South Wales has been building its public land hunting over the past nearly 20 years, being able to grow an entire business group that operates under the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Queensland can easily create a new business group within the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, building up slowly using secondments from various business groups and DESI QPWS Rangers. This small working group can liaise with the NSW DPI and Vic GMA on licensing, choosing forests, booking (if QLD leans towards the NSW system) systems, and legislation.

Not all public lands need to open at once, rather, a small amount can be used for a trial.

As shown by other leading states, this is possible to do. Not only is it possible, it actively contributes to biosecurity goals and outcomes. Queensland should learn from other states.

We propose a trial of one to three state forests that are known to have the largest populations of invasive vertebrates in the state, being open to vetted members of the public.


In conclusion, integrating recreational hunting into Queensland’s pest management strategy offers a practical and multifaceted solution to the invasive species challenges highlighted in the Draft Queensland Invasive Plants and Animals Strategy 2025-2030. By leveraging the expertise and enthusiasm of recreational hunters, Queensland can enhance its efforts to protect high-value biodiversity and ecologically sensitive areas, bridge ownership and coordination gaps, and address data deficiencies. The experiences of Victoria and New South Wales demonstrate the feasibility and effectiveness of regulated public land hunting, which not only contributes to pest control but also provides significant economic benefits to local communities.


Implementing a phased approach, beginning with pilot programs on select public lands, allows Queensland to carefully plan and adapt based on feedback and outcomes. This strategy fosters collaboration between government agencies, landowners, and the hunting community, ensuring a comprehensive and coordinated response to invasive species management. By embracing this proposal, Queensland can harness the dedication of recreational hunters to achieve cost-effective pest control, protect the environment, and support the state’s economy.



Daniel Kuhl - BSc Biological Sciences

Director, Eureka Outdoors

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