Firearm sales rise with outbreak of foxes, feral pigs, goats and deer
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Firearm sales rise with outbreak of foxes, feral pigs, goats and deer

A population explosion of foxes, feral pigs and three deer species is driving demand for high-calibre rifles, according to Braidwood Outdoors, which says 50 per cent of its firearm and bow sales is coming from Canberra.

A Braidwood district farmer told proprietor Steve West he had strung up 72 shot foxes along the branches of a dead tree on his property.

Braidwood Outdoors owner Steve West with a .223 rifle.

Braidwood Outdoors owner Steve West with a .223 rifle.Credit:Rohan Thomson

Red, sambar and fallow deer are in the sights of rifle and bow hunters, Mr West said. The red and fallow deer had escaped years ago from farms in the region and were breeding up in numbers.

"They will wreck a fence, and they taste pretty good," he said. "A lot are taking feed from cattle, and with cattle prices pretty good, the deer are a real pest."

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The .223-calibre rifles were a popular choice among hunters. "They have more oomph than a .22 and you need that to shoot something at 300 metres, the smaller .22 won't do it. For pigs and goats, a .308 will finish the job in one shot. All professional roo shooters use .223, a smaller calibre because if they miss, which they rarely do, the bullet won't continue to travel too far."

The NSW Greens issued data showing gun ownership has increased 25 per cent in towns around Canberra. In the Bywong and Bungendore districts it had jumped 27.4 per cent, while the number of licensed firearms in the greater Goulburn area increased 23.3 per cent.

Mr West said he was not surprised more people wanted guns. "The truth is, in the last 12 months three times the number of people have applied for a firearms licence than in the past five years at the Firearms Registry in Murwillumbah.

"This [his shop] is where legal blokes come to buy a rifle. If they clamp down on them, criminals will be the ony ones with them. If you want to buy an illegal gun you go to Kings Cross and buy it out of the boot of a car," he said.

Mr West said the United States dentist who shot Cecil the lion would not be welcome in his shop. "He's an idiot, a complete fool, someone out to shoot a pet lion, what a nutcase."

Dean Hamilton, who works at the outdoor shop, says people need to look further into the case and consider the role of the professional Zimbabwean hunting guides who put Mr Palmer in that position.

Mr Hamilton said guides elsewhere managed game hunting more responsibly and returned profits into sustaining animal populations.

In the Canberra region, bow hunting sites say state forests at Captains Flat have plenty of feral animals. One hunter said at a property owner's request, 1300 goats had been culled over two years.

John Thistleton is a reporter for The Canberra Times.

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