ANTI-HUNTING campaigners are outraged children as young as five were given water bottles with a pro-hunting message by the Game Council NSW and are calling on the state government to put a stop to the practice.
“We are alarmed to think the children at Catherine McAuley Catholic Primary School were given this message and we are disgusted,” National Parks Association representative Justin McKee said yesterday.
His comments were backed by Greens NSW MP David Shoebridge, who is demanding Premier Barry O’Farrell condem such use of public funds by the Game Council NSW, which provided the free water bottles to the school.
“He’s [Barry O’Farrell] using scarce public funds to push the pro-hunting message to five-year-olds,” Mr Shoebridge said.
The bottles were handed out to primary school students during a recreation day at the school last week.
The bottles carry the message “Be safe, be seen, always wear blaze orange when hunting.”
“This practice gives us a clear signal from the pro-hunting masterminds of the Game Council and the Fishers and Shooters Party that they haven’t dropped their agenda to get children hunting,” Mr McKee said.
Several parents spoke to the Central Western Daily after their children arrived home from school with the water bottles last week.
One of the parents said when she quizzed her child she was told “that’s the bottle I take when I go hunting.”
School principal Michael Croke declined to comment.
Game Council NSW spokesman Greg McFarland said the organisation has distributed 6000 bottles to schools, sporting bodies and other organisations and the complaints from Orange were the first received.
He said the Game Council NSW would continue to use the bottles as part of a marketing program to promote high visibility among hunters.
Yesterday Game Council NSW chief executive officer Brian Boyle was asked to respond to criticism of the water bottles, but declined.
Under recent changes to legislation, areas of the Mount Canobolas’ state conservation area and the Mullion Ranges will be opened up to recreational hunters.
The water bottles handed out by the Game Council NSW are among several orange items promoted on the game council’s website, including beanies, hats and jackets designed to be worn to make shooters more visible.