Hunters should lead the way

Bill Wil­liams, Ta­ble Top, NSW

Field and Game - - RECOIL -

An open let­ter to duck shoot­ers who want to pre­serve the right to an open sea­son.

As per usual most duck hunters and the FGA lob­bied for an open duck sea­son for 2016, de­spite rel­a­tively dry con­di­tions, re­duced wet­land habi­tat and low na­tional duck pop­u­la­tions. Al­though there seemed rea­son­able num­bers of ducks in those Vic­to­rian wet­lands that still had water this was be­cause the ducks were rel­a­tively con­cen­trated.

If we are to re­tain our right to hunt duck hunters need to be the lead­ing con­ser­va­tion­ists and the most proac­tive in the preser­va­tion of wet­land habi­tats and duck pop­u­la­tions. We should be proac­tively protest­ing the Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin Au­thor­ity's com­mit­ment to run­ning en­vi­ron­men­tal water into the South­ern Ocean and de­mand­ing in­stead that all the best water­fowl swamps re­ceive a big­ger share of en­vi­ron­men­tal water.

2016 was ab­so­lutely a year when duck hunters should have lob­bied for a closed sea­son. The un­ceas­ing an­nual lobby for an open sea­son by FGA just con­firms in the minds of the ma­jor­ity of non-duck hunters that as a group we are a bunch of red­necks who don't care at all about the well­be­ing and sus­tain­abil­ity of the species we hunt. Surely, as a group, duck hunters in­ter­ests are best served by re­spon­si­bly call­ing for the sea­son to be closed in years like this, rather than to lose the right to an open sea­son as the re­sult of a per­ma­nent ban on duck hunt­ing?

Un­less duck hunters can trans­form them­selves into the lead­ing wet­land and wa­ter­bird con­ser­va­tion group, duck hunt­ing will soon be banned. In the past duck hunters like Kerang's late Fred Wilkin­son were the lead­ing lob­by­ists for en­vi­ron­men­tal water flows into var­i­ous wet­lands. Which duck hunters can we look to now for such an ex­am­ple? The clos­ing of Lake El­iz­a­beth is a case in point. It should be we duck hunters iden­ti­fy­ing large pop­u­la­tions of pro­tected species and call­ing for the clo­sure.

Any duck hunter who is in doubt about how per­ilously close we are to los­ing out to those who are lob­by­ing for a per­ma­nent ban on duck hunt­ing should look closely at re­cent An­i­mals Aus­tralia videos of duck hunt­ing.

We as a group have a lot of work to do on many fronts if we want to pre­serve the right to hunt.

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