Game up for goat hunters as Greg McFarland pleads guilty

FORMER NSW Game Council chief executive officer Gregory Lionel McFarland, whose illegal hunting actions put a blowtorch to the state government’s plan to allow hunting in national parks, has pleaded guilty in Parkes Local Court to entering private land to hunt an animal without the consent of the owner and carrying firearms onto enclosed land.

Mr McFarland, 51, and his co-accused, Edward Bernard Hoogenboom, 66, were both convicted of illegal animal hunting on private land and fined $300 earlier this week.

On the second charge of carrying a firearm onto enclosed land both men were also convicted and handed Section 9 bonds to be of good behaviour for 12 months.

However, scores of other charges - an additional ten for Mr McFarland and nine for Mr Hoogenboom -  were withdrawn by the prosecution during the proceedings. 

Mr McFarland and Mr Hoogenboom were convicted of illegal hunting on a property at Mount Hope in December 2012, in which the prosecution claimed a goat was shot and killed on private property.

The owner of the Karwan cattle property claimed a Game Council vehicle was driven illegally onto the property in pursuit of the goat.

Mr McFarland was subsequently stood down from his role of CEO in January last year.

Initially, Mr McFarland and Mr Hoogenboom pleaded not guilty to all charges, however, at the hearing in Parkes Local Court this week they pleaded guilty to the two charges.

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The Game Council, which was established in 2002, was under the control and direction of the Minister for Primary Industries.

On July 4 last year Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson announced the dissolution of the authority following a review of governance of the Council by the NSW government.

In an independent review of the Game Council, which prompted its demise, retired public service Steve Dunn stated in his report “more than a decade after it was established the Game Council has no overarching governance framework; lacks a strategic planning framework; lacks some of the skills, tools and resources to ensure effective compliance with its regulatory framework and has no internal regulatory compliance program.”

The Central Western Daily contacted Mr McFarland for comment however he did not return our calls.

Mr Hoogenboom also could not be contacted.

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