by Jim O’Toole, Townsville Bureau
The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service continues its wanton shooting of extremely valuable straying cattle on unfenced Cape York national parks and Aboriginal land in most cases without the knowledge or authority of Traditional Owners and pastoralists.
The Queensland Labor Party Corporation is denying an alternative, cheap supply of protein to Peninsula Aboriginal communities by shooting and not allowing indigenous mustering teams to catch and slaughter these cattle for consumption in communities where the price of beef imported from Cairns or elsewhere averages $25 for one slice of beef steak at supermarkets.
There are three licenced slaughter houses on Cape York Peninsula where cattle could be processed.
Presently local communities have to resort to catching and consuming dwindling dugong and turtle populations for just a minimum protein intake.
On June 26, in response to complaints from Traditional Owners and local pastoralists we sent the below media inquiry to Minister Scanlon to which we have not received a reply.
The aerial culling by supposedly trained shooters who “shoot only unbranded stock” is laughable according to independent aerial shooter and nearby veteran cattle producer Mr John Witherspoon who shot many thousands of his own stock during the BTEC eradication campaign during the 1980’s.
He said is it impossible to distinguish between branded and unbranded cattle that are crashing through scrub at 40 – 50 klms per hour or galloping in high-grassed open forest being chased by a noisy helicopter.
Last year the QPWS claimed branded stock were not being shot or being wounded or maimed by QPWS employed shooters using 7.62 mm semi-auto rifles.
The QPS stated cattle were being killed by head shots only. Eye witness reports given to Cairns News were that many cattle, branded and unbranded were left to die with gut shots or broken limbs.
Recently commercial aircraft passengers witnessed a number of dead cattle on the ground at Heathlands National Park north east of Weipa, causing them anger and distress.
The media inquiry below was not replied to by Minister Scanlon, a former Gold Coast solicitor. Cape York residents have told Cairns News they would be starting a class action against the QPWS which would be filed in the Federal Court, Cairns.
QPWS Cairns manager Chris Kinnaird would be a respondent it was claimed:
Minister Meaghan Scanlon
June 26, 2022
We have been made aware of an official Cape York Peninsula 10 year plan to eradicate all cattle from national parks, government nature reserves, private nature reserves, aboriginal-held land, DOGIT leases, Katter leases or any other land not held under a Pastoral Holding lease.
This in itself is a monumentally erroneous mission when few if any national parks are fenced.
CSIRO, in conjunction with Aboriginal-owned Normanby Station last year started a funded research project to electronically track the movements of cattle on Cape York Peninsula.
CSIRO refuses to release any information to us about this project.
Could you please confirm this ten year plan because as we write your officers are illegally shooting quite valuable cattle on national parks and Aboriginal land.
We have seen legal advice that these cattle do not belong to NPWS or the State Government in any shape or form.
Take note that when the State purchases Cape York properties, most of them former cattle stations, they are bought unstocked, eg, Dixie Station, Bramwell Station, Mt Kroll.
The only exception we are aware of is when Premier Beattie forced then lessees of Shelburne Bay Station to exit the property after refusing to renew their lease. In this case the State purchased the in situ cattle circa 2003.
Since then almost all of these Shelburne cattle have been either caught by local pastoralists or shot by NPWS.
Take note we have spoken directly to very experienced and professional aerial shooters who state that cattle or horses shot from the air cannot be differentiated between feral or domestic, branded or unbranded.
Indeed contributors to this news service have direct aerial shooting experience and confirm this fact.
It is legal malfeasance to suggest that cattle being shot have been abandoned by their owners after any period of time.
You should take cognizance of the fact that the entire Peninsula was officially declared stock-free by the DPI circa 1989 after the BTEC shoot out.
All cattle including their progeny re-introduced there since then have been purchased by pastoralists.
Can you please confirm that the long term plan for the Peninsula is to hand over the entire land mass to Aboriginal PBC’s and or other indigenous entities.
When does NPWS intend to shoot on Bromley NP, Batavia NP, Wenlock River and Wattle Hills?
Will the NPWS resume shooting along the Archer and Coen Rivers and when?
We are aware that pastoralists can apply for permits to enter national parks to recover their cattle but the process and conditions are so lengthy and onerous they either don’t apply or do so rarely receiving a ;permit.
Your early advice on all questions would be appreciated.#