Hunters should lead the way
Bill Williams, Table Top, NSW
An open letter to duck shooters who want to preserve the right to an open season.
As per usual most duck hunters and the FGA lobbied for an open duck season for 2016, despite relatively dry conditions, reduced wetland habitat and low national duck populations. Although there seemed reasonable numbers of ducks in those Victorian wetlands that still had water this was because the ducks were relatively concentrated.
If we are to retain our right to hunt duck hunters need to be the leading conservationists and the most proactive in the preservation of wetland habitats and duck populations. We should be proactively protesting the Murray Darling Basin Authority's commitment to running environmental water into the Southern Ocean and demanding instead that all the best waterfowl swamps receive a bigger share of environmental water.
2016 was absolutely a year when duck hunters should have lobbied for a closed season. The unceasing annual lobby for an open season by FGA just confirms in the minds of the majority of non-duck hunters that as a group we are a bunch of rednecks who don't care at all about the wellbeing and sustainability of the species we hunt. Surely, as a group, duck hunters interests are best served by responsibly calling for the season to be closed in years like this, rather than to lose the right to an open season as the result of a permanent ban on duck hunting?
Unless duck hunters can transform themselves into the leading wetland and waterbird conservation group, duck hunting will soon be banned. In the past duck hunters like Kerang's late Fred Wilkinson were the leading lobbyists for environmental water flows into various wetlands. Which duck hunters can we look to now for such an example? The closing of Lake Elizabeth is a case in point. It should be we duck hunters identifying large populations of protected species and calling for the closure.
Any duck hunter who is in doubt about how perilously close we are to losing out to those who are lobbying for a permanent ban on duck hunting should look closely at recent Animals Australia videos of duck hunting.
We as a group have a lot of work to do on many fronts if we want to preserve the right to hunt.