Simmering tensions over a state government cattle culling strategy in Cape York’s national parks were thrashed out at an AgForce forum last week.
The strategy involves four stages – securing the boundary, owners retrieving stray stock, a joint neighbour and traditional owner muster and, the final stage, humane destruction of remaining feral cattle.
In a statement tendered at the AgForce multi-topic field day in Laura, Cape York Sustainable Futures raised concerns about a “one size fits all” policy in relation to the cattle culling.
“The action of culling leads to dollars being lost from the local economy as well as local employment opportunities being lost,” CYSF chief executive officer Trish Butler said in the statement.
“We do not support culling cattle and leaving them in the parks to rot and other feral animals feeding off them, and we believe that there are better ways to resolve this issue.
“Cape York Sustainable Futures believes that all cases should be reviewed on their merit and that graziers should be able to have access to the historic practice of grazing their cattle periodically in parks and mustering them out in a coordinated effort between rangers, graziers and land trusts.
“Right now, cattle prices are high and continued mustering of cattle will lead to Parks obtaining additional income to assist with their budget.”
Confusion was aired at the meeting about a number of issues including the staged process and that it was not being adhered to on the ground, the perceived need for $20 million public liability for a stock mustering permit in national parks and – ultimately – that the issue will continue to be raised every year, unless resolved.
Brett Staullbaum, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Cairns, said QPWS did not want cattle in national parks and it wasn’t a “one size fits all”.
“We try and look at each property that neighbours the national park and try and work out with each pastoralists how we can best resolve their problem of getting their cattle back,” Mr Staullbaum said.
“There are a couple of principles that guided us in to develop the four-staged cattle management strategy.
“Cattle on national parks are regarded as a pest under legislation.
“We are not in a business of having cattle grazing in the park. We are in the business of trying to make it as easy as possible for pastoralists to get branded cattle back, and there followers any other feral cattle that remain on that park.
AgForce’s Paul Burke said the management strategy was developed by a number of stakeholders including graziers, QPWS and AgForce.
“We stood here as a united group four years ago and sat here in good faith,” Mr Burke said.
He said 14,000 cattle were mustered from Lakefield National Park and returned to neighbours over two years.
“Producers wanted more time, better access and more consistent access,” Mr Burke said.
“I think we have achieved what we set out to do. No-one wants to see cattle killed, but we want to have as much opportunity to get that cattle off. It’s cheaper than culling.”
“They wanted more time, better access and more consistent access,” Mr Burke said.
“I think we have achieved what we set out to do with parks and stock squad and also managed to get the ability for forced musters
“No-one wants to see cattle killed, but we ant to have as much opportunity to get that cattle off, its cheaper than culling them.”