The Queensland National Parks Service is about to aerial shoot cattle belonging to the few remaining graziers on Cape York Peninsula.
Affected landowners on Cape York were emailed a week ago by the parks office in Cairns advising feral cattle would be shot along river courses and park boundaries starting on March 8.
Over the past three years more than 5000 cattle worth more than $6m on today’s market have been wantonly killed on the orders of the Queensland Labor Party Minister Meaghan Scanlon a young Gold Coast lawyer who has not ever held a real job.
Last year Coen residents saw dead cattle along a bush track that had been shot from a helicopter chartered by the parks.
A local resident told Cairns News several cows, calves and bulls had been indiscriminately gut-shot, shot in the legs and elsewhere and there would have been no one shot kills.
The carcasses provide an easy food source for the thousands of feral pigs and wild dogs living unmolested on national parks.
The resident said some of the cattle were branded and were the property of local land owners. Local aborigines also complained they could have caught the cattle on national parks and along river courses giving them work in a jobless district and reuniting them with some self-respect rather than surviving on sit-down welfare money.
Cairns News doubts the Minister has ever been to Cape York or witnessed the alcohol and drug abuse among some communities.
Attempts to bring the issue to the notice of State Parliament in this sittings have failed as graziers who received emails from parks officer Chris Kinnairv in Cairns have been reluctant to publicise them in fear of retribution from the Labor Party Government or the parks.
Such is the atmosphere that has existed on Cape York for decades. Pastoralists, except for an outspoken few who care about the proper management of country, live in fear of having their leases taken from them by a bully-boy Labor Party and an out-of-control national parks service.
In response to inquiries made last year made by state Member for Traeger Robbie Katter an Environment Department spokesman said only the best shooters were employed to cull cattle and that no branded cattle were being shot.
Veteran Cape York cattle producer John Witherspoon begged to differ saying he has had his cattle shot by helicopter in the past and fears for his branded cattle he knows have been running on an unfenced, nearby national park for the past 12 months or longer.
“The parks have us over a barrel. They won’t let us go onto the park to muster our branded and unbranded cattle unless we jump through a lot of hoops,” Mr Witherspoon said.
“We have to apply for a permit which takes a minimum of 40 days before we get an answer.
“By then the cattle could go anywhere or be shot by the parks.
“”Any vehicle going onto the park has to be registered and roadworthy, insured and we need public liability of $20m, but there are few registered property vehicles on Cape York, because it simply costs too much and is unnecessary for day to day running.
Mr Witherspoon disputed the Environment Dept claim that only feral or unbranded cattle are shot.
“Firstly the parks do not own any cattle. When they take over a grazing property they are destocked and most of the properties are unfenced.
“Any cattle straying onto a national park belong to somebody, usually the adjoining landowner or the former cattle producer who owned the property.
“In the late 80’s the entire Cape York Peninsula cattle herd was shot out because of the BTEC (brucellosis tuberculosis eradication campaign) and declared by the government at the time as officially destocked.
“I shot many thousands of cattle from the air as a part of this campaign and it is impossible to tell if cattle are branded or not especially when most shooting is in thick scrub.
“It is not easy to do and one shot kills are rare.”
As a consequence of the government’s declaration that the entire Cape York Peninsula landmass was stock free in the early 90’s after the BTEC shoot out, any cattle that exist there now are descendants of cattle introduced by re-stocking pastoralists.
The National Parks have been contacted for comment.