Police are investigating how a bed and breakfast owner got a bullet through his dining room window opposite a state forest the NSW government recently opened for bow hunting.
John Kealey, who runs a B&B at Colo Heights on the fringes of north-western Sydney, said he heard a number of rifle shots coming from Comleroy State Forest in late January – before the temporary ban on hunting in state forests was lifted – and discovered the bullet hole the next day.
The retired business administrator, who lives opposite the forest, said he was now scared to get out on his tractor around his 45-hectare property.
”This area for hunting is absolutely ridiculous and puts landholders at risk,” Dr Kealey said. ”There are no feral animals in this forest. They’ll only hit koalas, birds and kangaroos.”
Dr Kealey said he was worried that if illegal hunters, who he presumes were responsible for the bullet, continue to shoot in the forest, his B&B would be affected.
”If someone had been in there [in the dining room] and got sprayed with glass, that would be the end of my business,” he said.
Comleroy was opened to bow hunters only on February 3, along with about 200 other state forests across NSW, after a six-month hiatus. But locals around Comleroy say they were not consulted. The first they knew of it was when signs were put up last month.
Inspector Bill Slatford, from Windsor police, said it was not the first time illegal hunting had been reported in Comleroy State Forest.
”We believe it’s a recreational hunter,” he said of the bullet hole in Mr Kealey’s window. ”We have had other reports of a similar nature.”
The Greens say the only safe option is to end hunting in the forest.
”These stories have more in common with the Wild West than a public forest on the edge of Sydney,” Greens MP and firearms spokesman David Shoebridge, said. ”The first time neighbours knew hunters would be in their local forest was when the Department of Primary Industries hammered in ‘open for hunting’ signs outside their homes.”
Mr Shoebridge also said police had been too slow to investigate the bullet through Dr Kealey’s window.
”If there had been a bullet put in a window anywhere else in Sydney there would have been a swarm of police in minutes, but because this bullet came from a forest, police didn’t come for weeks,” he said.
The Department of Primary Industries, which has had responsibility for amateur hunter licences in NSW since the Game Council was disbanded last year, said it was aware of the incident.
”Hunters are advised, via their written permits, that there is an exclusion zone around a residence on the south-east edge of the forest and they are also reminded that the forest is regularly used by recreational users,” a spokeswoman said.
Greens NSW MP and Firearms Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“Locals tell of illegal shooting at all hours, arrows in native animals and bullets through windows.
“What is most appalling is that the government declared this forest open for hunting without consulting any of the locals.
“It is quite unacceptable that calls from worried locals about illegal shooting in public forests and even bullets in their homes get so little attention from police.
“The only safe option is for the Minister to immediately end hunting in this forest.”