Our fight goes on

Well, how is the war go­ing? Or did you think it ended with Duck Sea­son?

Field and Game - - FGA CHAIRMAN -

I'm afraid not. It will con­tinue for the fore­see­able fu­ture and we can­not af­ford to let our guard down. You will have seen the anti-duck hunt­ing ads An­i­mals Aus­tralia had plas­tered on buses and on bill­boards, mostly tar­get­ing in­ner city Mel­bourne. You will also have seen our FGA ad­ver­tise­ments em­pha­sis­ing the con­ser­va­tion work be­ing done by our hun­ters. Our bud­get was not as large as An­i­mals Aus­tralia, who we es­ti­mate spent up to $800 000 on their “Duck hunt­ing is not a sport” cam­paign. Was it ef­fec­tive?

I don't be­lieve it really changed many peo­ple's view of duck hunt­ing, the use of “sport” is a dou­ble-edged sword (I be­lieve sport is a fair de­scrip­tion of what we do, as it utilises hand-eye co­or­di­na­tion in the pur­suit of a recre­ational ac­tiv­ity, which in­volves “fair chase”), Their tar­get was to push their mes­sage to their sup­port base of in­ner elites who in­clude lots of peo­ple with spare cash to do­nate to causes and spare time to staff polling booths at elec­tions and do­nate their skills (e.g. com­puter skills, graphic de­sign­ing) to a cause. They also in­clude in­flu­en­tial peo­ple in the me­dia, the bu­reau­cracy and staff of politi­cians.

Our FGA ad­ver­tis­ing was aimed at rais­ing the gen­eral pub­lic's view of hun­ters and to in­form them that we are ac­tive in con­serv­ing the wildlife we hunt and their en­vi­ron­ment. We show­cased am­bas­sadors to high­light the long his­tory of the link be­tween con­ser­va­tion and hunt­ing, and we will con­tinue to in­tro­duce more of these as the pro­gramme de­vel­ops.

The fund­ing of this cam­paign is re­ly­ing on the gen­eros­ity of mem­bers and this is com­ing from both in­di­vid­u­als and branches. Port Phillip Branch has do­nated its en­tire share of mem­ber­ship rev­enue to the fight­ing fund and Sale and Bendigo have made sig­nif­i­cant do­na­tions. I en­cour­age you all to con­trib­ute … the fight con­tin­ues and so must the fund­ing of it.

The cam­paigns of An­i­mals Aus­tralia are a re­minder that we are in­volved not in a po­lit­i­cal war, but a cul­ture war — a bat­tle over val­ues, prin­ci­ples and life­styles — of which pol­i­tics is only a part. Cul­ture wars re­quire much more re­sources and much more ded­i­ca­tion and com­mit­ment than po­lit­i­cal wars be­cause they are 24/7, 52 weeks a year ev­ery year.

An­other re­minder was an ed­i­to­rial in the Her­ald Sun in June sup­port­ing a cam­paign by Gun Con­trol Aus­tralia, (which we be­lieve has two mem­bers), to ban the Adler. The ed­i­tor of the Her­ald Sun is on the Board of the Alan­nah and Made­line Foun­da­tion, an anti-gun lobby — a fact he did not men­tion.

This is the re­al­ity we all need to un­der­stand.

The Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment has in­tro­duced Amend­ments to the Wildlife Act in what they told us was an at­tempt to stream­line and im­prove the process for wet­land clo­sures in the hunt­ing sea­son.

We op­pose these changes. The Gov­ern­ment says its prin­ci­pal ad­viser on game man­age­ment is­sues is the Game Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity (GMA) which an­swers to the Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture. How­ever the de­ci­sions about clos­ing and open­ing wet­lands this year were based on ad­vice from the Emer­gency Clo­sures Ad­vis­ery Com­mit­tee (ECAC), which the Gov­ern­ment chose to ac­cept or ig­nore as it pleased. This Com­mit­tee is re­spon­si­ble to the En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter.

The fact is that the for­ma­tion of the GMA made the ECAC re­dun­dant and the so­lu­tion is to abol­ish the ECAC, not to mod­ify its op­er­a­tions and pro­cesses. What hun­ters need is de­ci­sions around game man­age­ment based on sound eco­log­i­cal ev­i­dence and data, not sim­plis­tic, emo­tive views.

A cou­ple of use­ful changes were in­cluded: 10-gauge shot­guns are pro­posed to be re­moved from the cat­e­gory of punt guns and will be able to be used for duck hunt­ing, as will three-bar­relled shot­guns. Good news for those of you who have bought one of those strange look­ing guns! We will ad­vise you when the leg­is­la­tion is passed.

I hope you had a good sea­son: the birds were scarce but there for those who put in the work. With the lower bag lim­its I max­imised my meat har­vest­ing by cut­ting each bird into four pieces and slow cook­ing them in duck fat and herbs and then pot­ting them un­der duck fat — a con­fit of duck. All you then do is re­heat the pieces and serve them with baked veg­eta­bles. Su­perb!

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