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NSW national parks open to amateur shooters

First hunt by licensed amateurs in a NSW national park set to take place.

First hunt by licensed amateurs in a NSW national park set to take place. Photo: Daryl Pinder

The first hunt by licensed amateurs in a NSW national park will take place on Saturday near Griffith as police continue to search for shooters who illegally gunned down six brumbies in a state forest to the north.

On Saturday, four volunteer hunters will target feral goats at the Cocoparra Nature Reserve under National Parks and Wildlife Service supervision as part of a controversial three-year state government trial.

The reserve is one of 12 parks opened to amateur hunting by the government after Premier Barry O'Farrell struck a deal with the Shooters and Fishers Party to get electricity privatisation legislation through the Parliament.

National Parks said the hunting was designed to help protect the Cocoparra Pomaderris, a native shrub, and the Inland Grey Box woodland endangered ecological community.

The reserve will be closed while the hunting takes place.

Licensed hunters were allowed to resume unsupervised shooting in about 200 state forests this month following a six-month hiatus. The Department of Primary Industries, which oversees licensed hunters, said almost 700 permits had been issued within nine days of the ban being lifted.

But by Sunday, six wild horses - two mares and four stallions - were found illegally shot dead at Newnes State Forest near Lithgow. Police are investigating and have ruled out two hunters who had permission to shoot in the forest around the time the horses' bodies were found.

Investigators nonetheless believe the fatal shots were the work of experienced marksmen.

The Chifley local area command crime manager, Inspector Luke Rankin, said police had spoken with both hunters registered through the Department of Primary Industries to shoot in the area. ''We're pretty certain that they weren't involved,'' he said. ''We believe this is an instance of illegal hunting.''

Police are appealing to the public for assistance. ''People that were camping there would have heard [the rifle shots],'' Inspector Rankin said.

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