Hooray for hun­ters

I hope you had a good one; I was out in the West Wim­mera on a lake with a good num­ber of hun­ters and at just past 9 am, shoot­ing started, the birds got up and mov­ing and we had some great hunt­ing. They were com­ing from all an­gles and pre­sented well.

Field and Game - - FGA Chairman - Bill Pater­son FGA chair­man

I was us­ing a lo­cally pro­duced duck load (34 g No. 5s) and most birds hit the wa­ter dead.

For var­i­ous rea­sons, I did not have my dog with me, so made each re­trieve my­self. I paid for this on one long re­trieve, when I did not see a sub­merged branch and took a dive! Re­sult, a full strip and clean of the gun and a new mo­bile phone (wa­ter­proof). In fu­ture, I’ll al­ways take Rod­ney.

Across the state the Open­ing went ex­tremely well with very few hunter in­fringe­ments and the usual few pro­test­ers charged, ba­si­cally for be­ing pests.

The pro­test­ers had to de­lay their lay­ing of the ducks on Par­lia­ment steps due to them only get­ting three birds on the Open­ing week­end. Hun­ters had com­plied with the new reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing re­triev­ing each bird and the pro­test­ers were un­able to eas­ily come by birds. It took them three weeks to get enough birds to jus­tify a me­dia event — which the me­dia did not bother at­tend­ing!

It’s fair to say we had a lot of reser­va­tions about the changes the gov­ern­ment made to the 2018 sea­son and we were very clear in our mes­sag­ing to hun­ters that the new times and reg­u­la­tions must be com­plied with and that we could still have a great Duck Sea­son.

The re­sponse was ex­cel­lent! Hun­ters were clear at the Duck Fever nights and at other fo­rums that there was no tol­er­ance of the ac­tions of a few putting at risk the en­joy­ment of many.

On the is­sue of num­bers, the GMA of­fi­cers were re­ported as say­ing they saw about 2100 hun­ters out on the Open­ing week­end. How­ever, they were at 38 wet­lands and there are 200 State Game Re­serves in the state and many pri­vate wet­lands where hunt­ing oc­curs. In the Wim­mera, each wet­land we vis­ited had hunter camps on them and across the state there would have been more like 8500 hun­ters.

Hun­ters’ li­cence fees paid for our SGRS and it was dis­ap­point­ing to see in the 2016 au­dit of Vic­to­ria’s unique 199 SGRS that: 46 can­not be ac­cessed due to am­bigu­ous or un­de­fined ac­cess points or leased ease­ments; 116 SGRS do not have two-wheeled drive ac­cess and there is no ve­hi­cle ac­cess to 80 sites. Im­por­tantly, the

man­age­ment of State Game Re­serves is not done by the GMA, but by Parks Vic­to­ria.

Man­age­ment of SGRS should be un­der the con­trol of the GMA, whose ob­jec­tives should be more in line with the Vic­to­rian Fish­eries Au­thor­ity who pro­mote, op­ti­mise and de­velop recre­ational fish­ing.

There was a bit of change to the sea­son this year and some hun­ters avoided the Open­ing week­end be­cause of this. How­ever, those who did go out had a lie-in rather than a dawn rise, but still had some great hunt­ing.

The gov­ern­ment has said the late starts on the Open­ing week­end will be a two-year trial, but we will be seek­ing to move back to the pre­vi­ous times. The new reg­u­la­tions and hunter ed­u­ca­tion have worked well and we be­lieve a re­lax­ation back to the ear­lier times can be done with­out risk of bad hunter be­hav­iour.

I in­tend, and en­cour­age you all, to get out as of­ten as you can for the rest of the sea­son.

Prior to Open­ing, the EPA con­ducted fur­ther PFAS test­ing on ducks from lo­ca­tions that were thought to be un­con­tam­i­nated with PFAS, as well as fur­ther sam­ples from the Heart Mo­rass. The lo­ca­tions were Hird Swamp, Lake Bo­lac and the Heart Mo­rass State Game Re­serve (this is ad­ja­cent to the sec­tion of the Heart Mo­rass owned by the WET Trust that has suf­fered PFAS run-off from the Depart­ment of De­fence prop­erty.

The birds from Hirds and Bo­lac recorded low lev­els of PFAS, be­low lev­els that would cause warn­ings from the EPA. The lev­els in the Heart Mo­rass SGR birds were higher, but con­sid­er­ably lower than the orig­i­nal sam­ples from the Heart con­tam­i­na­tion site. Hence, no gen­eral warn­ings re­gard­ing the con­sump­tion of meat from ducks were con­sid­ered nec­es­sary by the EPA, but the warn­ings re­gard­ing con­sump­tion of ducks from the Heart were left in place, pend­ing fur­ther eval­u­a­tion.

It is worth not­ing that Pro­fes­sor Brian Pri­estly, di­rec­tor, Aus­tralian Cen­tre for Hu­man Health Risk As­sess­ment (ACHHRA) at Monash Univer­sity, has pub­lished his lat­est (Dec 2017) up­date on the lit­er­a­ture re­view on the po­ten­tial health ef­fects of PFAS. This re­view, which has been go­ing for seven years, is of all sci­en­tific re­search on the sub­ject and seeks to draw con­clu­sions from all the work be­ing done on this sub­ject. The lat­est re­view has added ap­prox­i­mately 50 new epi­demi­o­log­i­cal stud­ies to the knowl­edge base of the health ef­fects of PFAS. Pro­fes­sor Pri­estly sum­marises the lat­est re­view as: “The new epi­demi­ol­ogy stud­ies have not added any sub­stan­tially new or con­cern­ing in­for­ma­tion on the po­ten­tial health ef­fects of PFAS.”

Hence, we are still in the po­si­tion, de­spite con­tin­ued re­search, of hav­ing no es­tab­lished ad­verse health ef­fects di­rectly linked to PFAS chem­i­cals and have the EPA con­tin­u­ing to take a cau­tious ap­proach.

The Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment has given a lot of pub­lic­ity over the past week to their new laws re­gard­ing Firearm Pro­hi­bi­tion Or­ders and their in­ten­tion to use these to tar­get out­law bik­ers and drug deal­ers. The Com­bined Firearms Coun­cil of Vic­to­ria, of which FGA is a mem­ber and I am its pres­i­dent, strongly fought to have changes made to this Act that would have given some pro­tec­tion to firearm own­ers. The gov­ern­ment was de­ter­mined not to al­low any “wa­ter­ing down” of these dra­co­nian pro­vi­sions and we were nar­rowly de­feated. In meet­ings with se­nior po­lice we were as­sured that the pow­ers given to po­lice un­der this Act would only be used to fight se­ri­ous crime and not used against firearms own­ers. The pro­vi­sions for a Pro­hib­ited Per­son un­der the Firearms Act would re­main and these would con­tinue to be used in nor­mal cases.

I would like to think the as­sur­ances we have been given prove to be cor­rect. How­ever, I would like to hear from any mem­ber who has the new Fierearms Pro­hi­bi­tion Or­der ap­plied to them un­der the new Act, in or­der that we can check these or­ders are in­deed be­ing ap­plied as in­tended and are not be­ing used to pres­sure or­di­nary firearms own­ers.

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