Challenging times ahead
Field & Game Australia general manager David Mcnabb says hunting is under threat and the organisation and its members are already fighting back with facts not fiction.
It is a real privilege to return to
magazine and share with you the insights from the first month of duck hunting across south eastern Australia. More on that shortly.
Firstly, thanks for your feedback on the first issue of your new magazine. It's been an exciting project, one you can be sure that everyone involved is extremely proud of and committed to sharing your stories.
I appreciate the patience of those members who were at the mercy of our postal institution. We can't change their delivery operations, in fact we can't even make sense of it, and we're working around this for the second issue. I reserve my loudest vote of thanks for all the contributors for their stories.
More exciting initiatives are underway to tell the FGA story to the broader community.
Opening weekends saw great times at hunters' camps around the country. Some hunters got their bag, others didn't. It's been as tough for the dedicated quail hunters and their dogs who have walked kilometres after this elusive bird. But as they say, any day spent hunting, regardless of the harvest, is better than a good day at work!
Opening weekend for me was one of many different senses. Waking in the early hours of opening day after experiencing first-hand the incredible disappointment of hunters clearing their camps at Lake Elizabeth State Game Reserve. The lingering tinge of smoke from hunters' camp fires, and the early morning dash across country to Lake Burrumbeet, near Ballarat, with Bill Paterson, our Chairman. The stench of rotting carp from the drying lakebed that greeted hunters, protesters and authorities. Ironically, the prevailing wind washed this stench across the caravan park where the animal rights activists had stayed.
Witnessing, incredulously the RSPCA mobile rescue truck parked up in front of 1 km of dry lakebed. The lack of respect from animal rights activists and politicians for a swan when displaying what they turned into their “trophy,” changing stories about the swan's demise when challenged.
Court action against Government, tying up precious publicly funded resources.
The extremists' activities forces public resources, paid for by you as taxpayers, into a small number of wetlands to manage what is essentially a media event. The challenge the extremists need to take on is this, find another way of voicing their views, and at the same time remove the barriers preventing the government agencies from doing their job effectively.
On a positive note, thanks to all the
hunters who welcomed the FGA team into their camps, and for your great support of our waterfowl research with head and wing sampling. This research is now in its eighth year, under the supervision of Associate Professor Graham Hall from UNE. Graham is a great friend of FGA and hunting.
While the seasons in Tasmania and South Australia are in full swing Victoria's season has been a troublesome one on many fronts, snap closures, poor processes, and activists having an influence disproportionate to their numbers or the strength of their argument.
There have been recriminations as well with hunting organisations losing faith completely in the emergency closure process. I have more to say on that later in this issue.
To illustrate the state of affairs, I have to share that after a lot of careful consideration, I resigned as chair of the Government's emergency closure advisory committee. Our preference is to work closely with the government of the day; however, the situation had become unworkable.
The state of affairs affecting hunting really came home with the shock resignation of the Hon. Roger Hallam as Chairperson of the GMA. Roger has been crucial in setting up the GMA, Australia's first statutory authority for hunting. Roger will be sorely missed, and goes with our sincere thanks for his fantastic contribution to hunting.
We're watching for any further developments with the GMA, and the Government's support for the GMA to fulfil its charter.
We've also seen illegal shooting of protected and non-game species at Lake Toolondo in Victoria. This idiocy is not only illegal, it's incredibly disrespectful that a few people can bring your reputation for ethical hunting into disrepute and put it at risk. Every member is an ambassador for hunting, and these illegal acts are not tolerated.
You may be wondering what these events mean for the future of hunting. They indicate strongly that we once again have to fight to protect our tradition. What can you do today? You can write to your local Member, to the Ministers for Agriculture and for Environment, and to the Premier. Inform these elected officials of the impact their actions have on you and your family and friends. Demonstrate the respect hunters are renowned for in your letters, and the deep passion and knowledge of our wetlands and the Australian bush and its wildlife.
We have launched a number of exciting initiatives. The new website complements
magazine, allowing you to get as much information as you choose, on the device you prefer.
We featured on SBS 2, and while I'm biased, the feedback on our message has been really positive. If you haven't seen this show, check it out at
or SBS 2 Our brand ambassador campaign is underway, and it's hugely exciting to share stories from our members' with the community. The central message is “Australia's most surprising conservationists.”
What are the extremists doing to improve habitat and manage water, one of our most precious resources? I know, and you know that it is FGA achieving real outcomes for wetland conservation.
The campaign is supported by key facts, not the fiction we constantly see trotted out by extremist animal rights activists. TV commercials played over the Victorian and South Australian opening weekend and we now have radio and online advertising running. Billboards are up in Victoria and South Australia. It's important to highlight this campaign is not solely for Victoria, we've designed a campaign that spreads across Australia. We've had incredibly generous support from members, thank you! The fundraising campaign has commenced to build our fighting fund, the more you invest, the more we can do to inform and educate the community, telling the facts of conservation and hunting, and dispelling the fiction. We need your help to secure the future of duck hunting in Australia. In turn, this ensures the survival of our precious wetland habitat. The extremists will protest this last statement, yet it is a proven fact around the world. Just as important as contributing to the campaign, make sure you get out and hunt. And hunt again. Use the season and reduced bag limit to train a young dog, introduce a new hunter, or help another hunter get more experience. I hope to see you in a wetland with a wet dog, a heavy bag, good banter and a smile. Share your story, that of Australia's most surprising conservationists.