Pos­i­tive progress

Vic­to­ria’s 2017 Duck Sea­son presents Field & Game Aus­tralia with a se­ries of chal­lenges that we are al­ready tack­ling head on.

Field and Game - - FGA CHAIRMAN ROB TREBLE -

As chair­man, I spent the days lead­ing up to open­ing get­ting around the many camps set up through­out the Koorangie State Game Re­serve, west of Kerang.

There was great ex­cite­ment amongst hunters and we all an­tic­i­pated a suc­cess­ful hunt on one of the magnificent marshes. The vis­its to duck camps were more than a so­cial call, FGA staff and board mem­bers were spread­ing the RE­SPECT mes­sage.

Don’t shoot early (out of sea­son), pos­i­tively iden­tify game birds, ad­here to the eth­i­cal dis­patch and treat­ment of game, re­cover the birds you shoot, and op­er­ate in a safe and cour­te­ous man­ner around fel­low hunters.

For the vast ma­jor­ity of hunters, and cer­tainly we would hope, for all FGA mem­bers, the vis­its sim­ply re­in­forced nor­mal op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures. Eth­i­cal and sus­tain­able hunt­ing isn’t dif­fi­cult and it should be sec­ond na­ture to most hunters.

Un­for­tu­nately, the out­come at Kerang fell well short of our ex­pec­ta­tions.

It is im­por­tant at this point to re­move the rose-coloured glasses.

There were not a ‘few’ guns blaz­ing prior to the open­ing time; it might have started with a few but within ten min­utes, still well be­fore time, there was a wall of sound echo­ing across the marshes.

Ar­gu­ing that protesters with firearms li­cences trig­gered it all ig­nores that fact that any­body fir­ing a shot prior to start time was do­ing so out of sea­son and there­fore il­le­gally.

By the Sun­day af­ter­noon we were get­ting a sense of the scale of the is­sues with shot pro­tected birds, game birds not re­trieved and spent shells left bob­bing in the wa­ter.

Dead pro­tected and non-game species are most likely due to the mis­deeds of a mi­nor­ity of hunters but the ev­i­dent fail­ure to re­trieve hun­dreds of game birds and the rub­bish we ob­served could not have been gen­er­ated by only a few.

Of­fi­cially, Koorangie SGR was closed be­cause of the pres­ence of the sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of freck­led and blue-billed ducks.

The need to pro­tect them through a clo­sure was clearly driven by the Game Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity record­ing 75 Freck­led duck and 22 blue-billed duck be­ing il­le­gally de­stroyed over the open­ing week­end.

FGA pub­licly con­demned what oc­curred at Koorangie SGR; we ar­gue strongly on be­half of hunt­ing but we can­not de­fend the in­de­fen­si­ble.

What we can do is be proac­tive in look­ing for ways to elim­i­nate the prac­tices that do dam­age to the rep­u­ta­tion of the ma­jor­ity of hunters who are eth­i­cal and re­spon­si­ble.

As the duck hunter’s or­gan­i­sa­tion, we have al­ready been en­gaged at the high­est lev­els po­lit­i­cally and we have reached out within the hunt­ing com­mu­nity to draw on the vast ex­pe­ri­ence of peo­ple both within FGA and ex­ter­nally.

A round ta­ble dis­cus­sion aimed at iden­ti­fy­ing the prob­lems, their causes, and po­ten­tial so­lu­tions was a breath of fresh air.

The dis­cus­sion pro­vided valu­able in­sights for the FGA board to con­sider as we work to re­solve com­pli­ance is­sues.

One thing I can share was a con­sen­sus that we need to en­gage and ed­u­cate and in some way, we had al­ready started down that road.

Our cur­rent mem­ber­ship cam­paign, with the chance for re­new­ing or new mem­bers to win a Kub­ota RTV, is bring­ing more hunters un­der the FGA um­brella.

The be­lief that mem­ber­ship of an or­gan­i­sa­tion brings with it greater re­spon­si­bil­ity and there­fore com­pli­ance seems to me to be well founded.

Sign­ing up to a re­spon­si­ble or­gan­i­sa­tion and an ac­cepted code of con­duct can only be good for hunt­ing and its fu­ture, and I urge all mem­bers to be ac­tive re­cruiters on wet­lands dur­ing the re­main­der of the sea­son.

While on the sub­ject of re­cruit­ment, I take this op­por­tu­nity to wel­come our new South Aus­tralian branches, Waik­erie and Ren­mark Berri.

Both branches are hop­ing to grow their num­bers un­der the FGA ban­ner and I en­cour­age trav­el­ling shoot­ers to sup­port their monthly events and en­joy their hos­pi­tal­ity.

The FGA board has also wel­comed a South Aus­tralian rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Jim God­den from Barmera Moorook. Jim brings to the board sig­nif­i­cant busi­ness skills along with his en­thu­si­asm for wet­land con­ser­va­tion and wa­ter­fowl­ing. His knowl­edge will be in­valu­able as we fight even harder on be­half of South Aus­tralia’s pas­sion­ate hunt­ing com­mu­nity.

En­joy the fi­nal months of the duck sea­son and wher­ever you go, re­mem­ber you are an am­bas­sador for hunt­ing.

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