The New England region is visited by a growing number of recreational hunters but they do not appear to come through regular tourism channels.
According to a spokesperson from the Department of Primary Industries during the past three years there has been an average of 2,500 written permissions issued each year for Riamukka, Nowendoc, Tuggolo, Hanging Rock and Nundle State Forests combined – a total of more than 24,000 hunter days.
“Between 2015 and 2016, there was a ten per cent increase in the number of written permissions issued for these areas and a four per cent increase in hunting days,” the spokesperson said.
“Although we are only part the way through 2017 and have incomplete data, based on the written permissions issued to date, we would expect the growth in participation to continue at a similar rate once again this year.”
The main species harvested across the Walcha region’s forests are fallow deer, foxes, pigs and rabbits.
Walcha Tourism manager Susie Crawford said she had received no recreational hunting enquiries at the Walcha Visitor Information Centre.
“I don't think I've ever had one through the tourism office directly but as a farmer I do get the odd call,” she said.
A report into the economic impact of recreational hunting in NSW shows the industry provides a significant contribution to the wider community and supports a range of businesses and jobs.
More than 2,400 game hunting licence holders responded to a survey into the economic impact of hunting in NSW earlier this year.
The research estimated that in just one year from March 2016, the State’s 19,000 game hunting licence holders contributed an estimated $119 million and provided up to 860 jobs.
Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair said it was the first comprehensive report on the economic impact of recreationalhunting in NSW.
“These strong economic results demonstrate the importance of continuing to engage the industry to explore ways that hunting can be undertaken safely, legally and continue to contribute positively to the economy, particularly in rural and regional areas of the State,” Mr Blair said.
“There are significant opportunities for hunters to contribute to pest animal management in rural areas and we will continue to work closely with farming groups, hunting organisations and Government agencies to explore these opportunities.”
Chair of the Game and Pest Management Advisory Board, Professor Robert Mulley, said the report validates what many hunters already know, that safe and responsible hunting has the potential to be a significant economic driver in regional areas of the State.
"Small towns like Tumbarumba and Tocumwal come to mind where significant hunting activity for species like deer and ducks is concentrated at certain times of the year,” Mr Mulley said.
“These small towns rely heavily on the steady stream of responsible hunters passing through on their way to State forests or rice fields as they buy fuel, groceries and stay in local hotels.”
This is the first research project funded from the Game and Pest Management Trust from hunting licence fees.