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.

Field and Game - - David McNabb -

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.

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