Birds of a feather?

A re­cent Twit­ter ex­change shows Birdlife Aus­tralia (BA) at odds with hunters but the re­al­ity is, while the rea­sons are dif­fer­ent, we re­ally want the same thing: facts and data.

Field and Game - - NEWS -

Here’s the ex­change with BA CEO Paul Sul­li­van the night the Vic­to­rian duck sea­son was an­nounced. The ex­change con­tin­ued with Mr Sul­li­van direct­ing us to BA pol­icy on wa­ter­fowl hunt­ing. Es­sen­tially, the orig­i­nal 1988 pol­icy sup­ported duck hunt­ing con­di­tional on the fol­low­ing out­comes: • An an­nual Aus­tralia-wide sur­vey on the tim­ing, du­ra­tion, dis­tri­bu­tion and suc­cess of wa­ter­fowl breed­ing events, def­i­ni­tion of hunter im­pact and set­ting of bi­o­log­i­cally mean­ing­ful sea­son spec­i­fi­ca­tions. • Bet­ter hunter ed­u­ca­tion to pro­tect non-game species and pe­ri­odic clo­sures. • A ban on lead shot. • A vig­or­ous pro­gram to in­creases the area of bi­o­log­i­cally pro­duc­tive wet­lands in Aus­tralia and wet­land re­search, man­age­ment and con­ser­va­tion pro­grams ad­e­quately funded from hunt­ing fees, sup­ple­mented by con­sol­i­dated rev­enue. Our col­leagues at the Aus­tralian Deer As­so­ci­a­tion were quick to point out how well we’ve done. It was all for naught. In 1994 BA re­viewed the pol­icy and con­sid­ered its ‘con­di­tions’ had not been met; it with­drew sup­port for wa­ter­fowl hunt­ing.

Which bring us to the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s sub­mis­sion to the Game Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity on the 2017 Vic­to­rian duck sea­son.

It is no sur­prise that BA op­posed a duck sea­son but within the rea­son­ing is this state­ment: “Birdlife Aus­tralia would sup­port a move to in­crease mon­i­tor­ing of wa­ter­bird pop­u­la­tions and the de­vel­op­ment of a sus­tain­able har­vest model of Vic­to­rian wa­ter­fowl as out­lined in Ram­sey et al (2010). In the ab­sence of a com­pre­hen­sive struc­tured mon­i­tor­ing pro­gram, Vic­to­ria con­tin­ues to rely on a largely sub­jec­tive ap­proach to duck har­vest­ing.” At least we agree on some­thing. An­i­mals Aus­tralia and RSPCA (Vic) made much of the low game duck abun­dance in­dex in sub­mis­sions but BA at least recog­nised the gaps in the sur­vey model.

“While the in­crease in the to­tal wet­land area in­dex may mean that ducks are highly dis­persed, and this may ac­count for some of the de­cline in duck abun­dance, the de­ci­sion on whether to al­low a duck sea­son in 2017 should be based on avail­able in­for­ma­tion, not spec­u­la­tion.“

Again, we agree on some­thing: we need facts and data.

There is a bit of cherry pick­ing of sup­port­ive data in the sub­mis­sions and we dis­agree with BA that a “… more so­phis­ti­cated anal­y­sis of data from the EAAWS” is needed.

It is time to ad­mit the whole model is flawed and we need new mon­i­tor­ing and mod­el­ling that is de­signed specif­i­cally for the pur­pose of man­ag­ing dy­namic and no­madic wild duck pop­u­la­tions.

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