ONE of two Game Council employees suspended over claims of illegal hunting near Cobar has been reinstated.
Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson stood down the council's communications manager and acting chief executive Greg McFarland, and head of firearms training and law enforcement Andy Mallen last Tuesday after allegations two men identified as them had been hunting without permission on a property south of Cobar.
On Friday Mr Mallen was reinstated after he satisfied police he was in Sydney when the incident was alleged to have happened.
Mr Mallen told Fairfax Media he was unable to comment.
Mr McFarland remained suspended while police continued their investigations. Police confirmed on Sunday the investigation was continuing. The government had been warned of the allegations of illegal hunting before Tuesday.
A spokesman for Ms Hodgkinson confirmed the Game Council itself had referred the matter to police for investigation.
Despite that, the council's chairman John Mumford has since called the matter an “unfounded smear campaign” by Fairfax Media.
Mr Mumford said the council had complete confidence in the two staff.
"We have one clear and one to go," he said in a statement.
At the centre of the police investigation were claims that two men driving in a council-owned vehicle strayed onto Karwarn, a cattle and sheep station, 110 kilometres south of Cobar, in pursuit of a goat and its “trophy horns”.
The owner of Karwarn, Diane Noble, reported the alleged incident to police. She passed on photographic evidence of a dead goat that had been left behind.
Ms Noble said she was alerted to the presence of unauthorised hunters on her 10,000-hectare station by a group of hunters from Victoria who had paid to shoot on her land.
Local sources said the Victorian group confronted the pair and took identification.
In a statement the Game Council said the allegations had been leaked to discredit the council after it had been thrust into the spotlight over its impending role in licensing hunters when 79 of the state's national parks were opened to shooting on March 1.
The Yathong Nature Reserve, which is next to Karwarn in the Mount Hope area, was one of the parks on the list that would be open to hunters.