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NSW Govt accused of misleading public -

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NSW Govt accused of misleading public

Jennifer Macey reported this story on Monday, August 31, 2009 12:46:00

ELEANOR HALL: The New South Wales Greens Party is accusing the State Government and the Western
Plains Zoo of misleading the public over the sale of antelope to a member of the Shooters Party.

The Government and zoo officials had insisted that the 16 antelope were sold on the condition that
they could be used only for breeding purposes.

But a freedom of information application shows the zoo accepted no responsibility for the animals
after they left Dubbo.

The zoo has now suspended the sale of animals to private operators while it conducts an internal
review into the sale, as Jennifer Macey reports

JENNIFER MACEY: The World Conservation Union, the IUCN has listed the blackbuck antelope as a near
threatened species with about 50,000 of the animals left in India and Pakistan.

In the past two years the Taronga Western Plains Zoo has sold 16 blackbuck antelope to the
Dongadale Deer Park in regional New South Wales.

The owner of that deer park Bob McComb is a member of the Shooters Party. He's also the head of the
Adventure and Safari Industry Association of New South Wales.

Earlier this month zoo officials and the State Environment Minister Carmel Tebbutt insisted that
the animals were sold for breeding purposes only.

CARMEL TEBBUTT (archival): These deer were sold for the purposes of breeding. That is stipulated in
the contract and the zoo carefully looked at this particular premises and it complies with all New
South Wales animal management laws.

JENNIFER MACEY: But now the State Greens say new documents obtained under freedom of information
laws show that no such safeguards were made.

Lee Rhiannon is a Greens MP in the New South Wales Upper House.

LEE RHIANNON: The freedom of information documents reveal a sale contracted stipulated that the zoo
actually accepted no responsibility for the animals once they left its care.

And the freedom of information document also revealed no report from a zoo vet with regard to an
inspection of McComb's deer park which raises questions if the inspection did occur and if it did,
how thorough and objective it was considering there is no report.

JENNIFER MACEY: Western Plains Zoo has now suspended the sale of all animals to private operators
while it conducts an internal review.

The zoo's managing director Matt Fuller says there was no stipulation in the contract of the sale
of the antelope because game hunting in New South Wales is illegal.

MATT FULLER: Absolutely. There is no availability for any animal to be hunted in a game park
situation as it stands in New South Wales.

The suggestion that we provided animals for hunting purposes is a ridiculous one. We would never
and will never provide animals for the purpose of hunting in New South Wales or in any other

JENNIFER MACEY: So what are the animals used for? Why do you sell them?

MATT FULLER: Obviously having a captive population we need to introduce new bloodlines from time to
time. Mr McComb had a very well established program with some very genetically valuable animals to
us that would give us the ability to seek new genetic diversity and we undertook those transactions
to enable us to set up a trading agreement to enable that to take place.

JENNIFER MACEY: But environment groups are opposed to private game reserves, worried that the
animals may escape compounding Australia's feral animal problem.

Keith Muir is the director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

KETIH MUIR: Game management is not conservation. It's a 19th century outmoded idea where you breed
up favoured species for the enjoyment of shooting and killing these animals. That then leads to
their escape into the wild and that has happened of course with the fox and the rabbit and we don't
need to repeat the history again and again and again.

JENNIFER MACEY: The New South Wales Environment Minister Carmel Tebbutt and the owner of the
Dongadale Deer Park declined The World Today's requests for an interview.

ELEANOR HALL: Jennifer Macey with that report.