FGA is at war!

Be in no doubt, the forces we are now fac­ing in the fight to pro­tect duck hunt­ing are more de­ter­mined, clever and well re­sourced, than we have ever faced be­fore, and we are fight­ing back.

Field and Game - - FGA Chairman -

The days when we would have Laurie Levy walk into the water and then emerge for the cam­eras, puff­ing and pant­ing and say­ing that “duck hunt­ing must stop” and then we all went about our busi­ness; are over.

An­i­mals Aus­tralia has taken over the push to stop our hunt­ing, and th­ese are the peo­ple who nearly de­stroyed the Aus­tralian live beef trade. They are very well funded and as we have seen, are will­ing to use the courts to push the Gov­ern­ment to close wet­lands to hunt­ing.

They have ob­vi­ously re­alised that an out­right ban on duck hunt­ing in Vic­to­ria is not go­ing to hap­pen and have opted to re­duce the num­ber of places avail­able for hunt­ing. They are do­ing this by di­rect court ac­tion rather than go­ing via the Game Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity. The ba­sis of their claim­ing that a wet­land must be closed is whether there are “rare and pro­tected” duck species on it. In the case of Lake El­iz­a­beth at Kerang, the pres­ence of be­tween 80 and 150 (de­pend­ing on who did the count and when) Blue-billed ducks were enough to have it closed late in the af­ter­noon of the day be­fore Open­ing. Hunters camped there were given two hours to pack up and leave. Now, there were 5000 – 10 000 birds on Lake El­iz­a­beth, all hunters have passed the WIT and Blue-billed ducks have very dis­tinc­tive habits which make them easy to iden­tify, so why the pan­icked clo­sure? Was it sim­ply the Min­is­ters' re­ac­tion to be­ing faced with a Supreme Court ac­tion?

The fact is that ducks go where the water is and in a year when wet­lands have dried out, you are go­ing to get non-game species at the few good wet­lands avail­able for hunt­ing. It was for this rea­son that the AA badge was given out for those who scored highly in the WIT, the idea be­ing that you would have to have an AA badge to hunt on a wet­land with high num­bers of non-game ducks. This has not been adopted and we are now fac­ing a sit­u­a­tion where fewer and fewer non-game species will cause a wet­land clo­sure.

It is worth not­ing that due to the con­ser­va­tion ef­forts of hunters over many years, we are now see­ing more “rare” species of duck, par­tic­u­larly Freck­led duck. It is ironic, and very galling that th­ese in­creased num­bers of some species of duck are now be­ing used to close wet­lands which were bought by hunter's li­cence fees to pre­serve ducks and duck hunt­ing!

The an­tis are well funded, they just have to put up a photo of a wild tiger and say ‘adopt this tiger by send­ing $15 to us', and money floods in!

They play the emo­tive card con­stantly; most of their anti-duck hunt­ing ads fea­tured cute lit­tle duck­lings. Never mind that the very rea­son our sea­son starts in late March is to en­sure that the breed­ing sea­son is well and truly over and there are no duck­lings! Pho­tos of duck­lings bring do­na­tions.

How are we fight­ing back? We must fight fire with fire and be­come equally able to get our mes­sage out and to har­ness fund­ing. We have com­menced an ex­ten­sive (and ex­pen­sive) me­dia cam­paign, which seeks to im­prove the im­age of hunters and make the pub­lic aware of the con­ser­va­tion work we do to en­sure our hunt­ing is sus­tain­able. This started at the com­mence­ment of the sea­son with ads

on ru­ral tele­vi­sion and is con­tin­u­ing with ra­dio ads, bill­boards and news­pa­pers. We also need to es­tab­lish funds to launch our own court ac­tion where nec­es­sary or to have lawyers con­test court ac­tions launched by the anti's.

We do not have the re­serves to cover this full me­dia cam­paign, but the Board took the view that we could not pro­tect our bal­ance sheet at the risk of los­ing duck hunt­ing! We look to you the hunter to help us to fund this ac­tion. Go to our web­site and you will see how to do­nate to the fight. Do it now and do it as of­ten as you can!

Be in no doubt, An­i­mals Aus­tralia, the RSPCA and their like take on th­ese fights a bat­tle at a time and then move onto the next tar­get. If they suc­ceed in stran­gling duck hunt­ing un­til there are too few hunters for the gov­ern­ment to worry about them, then they will move onto deer, pest an­i­mals, fish­ing… This is the first bat­tle and we ei­ther step up to the plate to de­fend our right to hunt, eth­i­cally and sus­tain­ably; or we go un­der. FGA will never roll over on any is­sue which puts our fu­ture abil­ity to hunt ducks at risk.

Plenty of birds at John­son Swamp but is it pro­tec­tion or pol­i­tics that has kept hunters from ac­cess­ing the game re­serve

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