Hunters angry over new law
A PROMINENT member of the Kuku Yalanji people has slammed the State Government’s plans to remove animal cruelty exemptions for traditional hunters.
State Fisheries Minister John McVeigh this week acted on an LNP election promise to introduce legislation to remove cruelty exemptions for traditional owners and bring Queensland’s animal welfare legislation in line with other States.
The LNP made the promise after claims were aired on ABC TV in March that turtles and dugongs were being killed inhumanely and poached in Far North Queensland.
The report showed Torres Strait locals hacking the legs off a sea turtle, which took seven minutes to die.
Footage by former IT entrepreneur and now eco-warrior Rupert Imhoff showed a turtle fastened by a rope for up to three days waiting to die, while dugongs were being dragged by boats.
Link Walker, a member of the Kuku Yalanji tribe, said his people were all for the proper treatment of animals and said the sensational footage dragged out to slam indigenous people was very damaging.
“Just like any race of people there are a few bad eggs that damage the reputation of the majority of lawabiding people and our people are totally against all forms of cruelty to any animal,” Mr Walker said. “It’s all about respect. “And as for people slamming us for our traditional ways and eating traditional foods, you have to remember there are still many people in our communities who do not have money to go to the supermarket and the only way they can feed themselves and their families is with traditional hunting.
“Our biggest message to nonindigenous people and to our own people, especially our kids, and that is to respect each other, respect the animals, respect the environment and respect our culture.
“Evidence of this respect is everywhere today by the existence of all of the natural food resources and the environment’s resources - if we didn’t show that respect thousands of years ago we wouldn’t have the creatures and the environment we do today.
“Eating turtles and dugongs is rarely done now and is mainly as part of time-honoured ceremonies or when people have nothing else to eat.
“It’s not the indigenous people out on the oceans with big ships dragging everything into their huge fishing nets and depleting vast numbers of animals.”
Mr Walker said the biggest problem is governments coming up with “their grand schemes” but there is never anyone put “on the ground” to help bring the changes about.
“It’s all about making the bureaucrats making a name for themselves and offering no solutions at all to the people who have to try and get on and live their daily lives, in many cases, with next to nothing,” Mr Walker said.
The new Bill calls for amendments to be made to the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 to make it illegal for indigenous Australians to wound, mutilate, torture or unnecessarily prolong the death of an animal.
Under the changes, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders would face the same penalties as other Australians - up to two years’ jail or a $100,000 fine - If they use cruel dugong and turtle hunting practices.