Season over, campaign continues
Our third issue of the magazine continues our mission to share news and stories from members around Australia, and specifically in this issue, a great range of articles from the game hunting season across southeastern Australia.
I'm delighted the NT hunting season has been announced already. The NT Government has delivered on a commitment for a timely announcement of season dates and bag limits.
In my last column, I described the sensory extremes of opening weekend. At one end of the scale, the comforting smell of wood smoke and the warm embrace of hunters' camps and at the other end, the stench of dead carp and the circus of misinformation that enveloped Lake Burrumbeet.
Who could forget the swan allegedly shot, then not shot, but instead dead from the ‘stress of hunting', activists' claims all made without a foundation of evidence.
Hunters are resilient and our passion to be outdoors with friends and family, harvesting wild food, trumps the adversities put in our way.
Keen hunters have pursued what opportunities there were for both duck and quail but the challenges we called out in our submission to the Victorian Game Management Authority in December 2015 are unchanged.
Habitat is critical, whether it is wetlands for ducks or grasslands for quail, and research should underpin decision making. There's no substitute for hard facts and data.
Hunters, as you will read in this edition, are helping with research into Avian influenza to ward off a potential human pandemic. As an organisation we are actively supporting important science, a somewhat ironic situation given hunters would value and benefit from more research into game species.
Duck Seasons come and go all too soon but the lobbying never ends and we have been on the ground in Victoria, South Australia and Canberra whenever the opportunity arises to brief key people.
In Victoria, the Government has recognised issues with the process of publishing closure, and notionally also re-opening notices, when concentrations of rare and protected ducks appear, however, amendments introduced into the Parliament fall short. Critically, they highlight the need for change at every level to deliver more effective game management decisions.
The benefits of our focus on advocacy and brand are becoming evident.
We've been quoted in the Victorian Parliament and media exposure is being gained, allowing us to provide balance to the misinformation fed to the broader community by those opposed to hunting, and to expose them to the truth that hunters, historically, now and into the future, are the real conservationists. Our wonderful brand ambassadors, Debbie, Ben and Emma, reinforce that message.
Numerous reviews and inquiries continue to soak up time and resources due to the complexity of the issues around water, land, animal welfare and management of natural resources including our valued game species.
We appreciate the support of our Australian Deer Association colleagues in making a number of joint submissions recently. It is painstaking work but it earns us a seat at the table, credibility and respect.
The political landscape is becoming clearer as I write, with Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal/nationals able to form Government. We've already planned a Canberra visit to continue critical advocacy work on your behalf.
In NSW, the Baird Liberal Government decision to ban greyhound racing has much broader implications. A ban was just one of 80 recommendations in the 11-volume Special Commission of Inquiry report and the lack of any attempt to implement the rest is of real concern. So is the emergence of the term “social licence” in announcing the ban. We must not ignore this clear signal.
We can't find a paper copy of our Government-issued “social licence” anywhere but make no mistake, we can lose it at the stroke of a pen should the animal rights campaigners win the culture war they are waging.
They are not fighting a political battle over legislation or regulation but a bigger battle over values, principles and lifestyles.
The campaign to build our fighting fund is underway, but the reality is we must raise more to fend off our well-funded opponents. Donating the equivalent of three packets of steel duck loads also keeps us in front of political and other decision makers across the country.
Thanks to the branches and members who have contributed already, every dollar will make a difference.
See you out there with a gun in hand and a keen dog at your side.