Our fight goes on
Well, how is the war going? Or did you think it ended with Duck Season?
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!