Illegal hunters cause havoc for motorists
ILLEGAL hunters are causing heartache for landholders and motorists alike, cutting fences and leaving livestock and drivers in harm's way.
The practise of damaging fences to enter private properties illegally to hunt feral pigs is increasingly common in the bush and is having disastrous consequences.
Carolyn Williams, from outside Chinchilla, has seen it first-hand after her daughter was injured in a crash involving a weaner which was let loose by hunters who cut a nearby fence last month.
Mrs Williams has also had fences on her own property tampered with on multiple occasions.
One incident occurred after she heard a car horn in the middle of the night which she initially thought was just a driver warning off a roo.
"(My daughter) said 'Mum, we'd better get up' and I got up and had a look and my stallion was out on the road,” she said.
"They'd come and just turned off his fence and dropped his gate.”
Two days before the crash involving her daughter, another landholder (who asked their name be withheld for fear of reprisals from hunters) reported their fences had been cut and they were still trying to find the livestock days later.
"They just scattered, they were just everywhere, they were all over on the Condamine Highway through to the power station,” the owner said.
Since their initial interview with the Chinchilla News, that landholder said the fences had been cut again.
It's a situation of which the Chinchilla police are aware and have confirmed as a particular problem in the area.
Chinchilla officer-in- charge Andrew Irvine said police had patrolling known problem areas and would continue to do so.
"We encourage people to take photos of any damage,” he said.
The hunters' behaviour means landholders lose both time and money rounding up roaming livestock as partners take time off work to help, fork out for fence repairs, and lose income when stock die in accidents.
And it's exacerbated by what Mrs Williams and the unnamed landholder described as "threats” from hunters.
Both said they'd been intimidated by illegal hunters and were afraid that by speaking out they, or their animals, could be targeted more in the future.
"It's hard because you can't catch them and they can get very aggressive so, if you do catch them, you're worried about getting bashed up or getting rammed and you're just too far out of town,” the landholder said.
For Mrs Williams, the situation has only worsened over time.
"Every week, guaranteed, there's one, two, maybe three (illegal hunters) that go out of a night and you hear the guns and you can hear the vehicles, you can hear their dogs,” she said.
The only way, they said, to successfully report trespassers was to catch them clearly on camera, which could prove difficult when properties spanned vast areas.
What resulted was a financial and mental burden on property owners already ravaged by drought.
"It's the lack of respect for people in general and their properties and that's your livelihood,” Mrs Williams said.
"It's hard, my stallion's my future and if he gets hit, I've got nothing.”