A few regions of Victoria have received some welcome rain today, but the extent of the impact on our wetlands and waterbirds remains to be seen. Field & Game Australia have been monitoring the usual processes for the closing and reopening of State Game Reserves (SGRs) and other wetlands throughout the state, after some shock decisions earlier in the season to exclude hunters from these reserves.
Lake Elizabeth SGR, which was closed at the eleventh hour before opening weekend, remains closed; however the usual processes are underway, monitoring and surveying the populations of protected birds on the wetland. The initial closure was due to a significant presence of Blue-billed ducks. Their numbers continue to be monitored. If there’s any change with the status of this wetland, Field & Game Australia will keep you informed.
Toolondo Reservoir has been partially closed – the eastern-most body of water, and the channel between east and south lakes are off-limits to hunters – due to a population of Freckled duck. While the northern and southern lakes are open to hunting, the area is also a focus for protester activity and may be monitored by animal rights extremists. Field & Game Australia encourages all hunters to do the right thing and hunt respectfully.
Johnson Swamp SGR was closed using the usual transparent and informed processes prior to the duck season opening in order to avoid disturbing some Australasian Bitterns in residence at the swamp. The reasons for the subsequent closure, which excludes hunters for the remainder of the Victorian duck season, is still unclear as GMA and Field & Game Australia surveys showed the bitterns had moved on – as have many other of our nomadic waterbirds – as the wetland is drying down. The actions and methods for enacting wetland closures this season remains an issue for Field & Game Australia and we’ve been talking to Minister Jaala Pulford around this.
The National Office staff have also been busy working away on several projects.
Issue 2 of Field & Game magazine will be in your letterbox soon. The final proofread took place last week, with our Communications Officer Rachel running both eyes and a highlighter over any areas that needed attention. If you're wondering: yes, the issue with the typeface and the paper finish has been addressed, so the second issue should be easier to read.
We’ve been busy in Canberra, South Australia and Victoria, representing your interests with members of parliament. Last week Minister Pulford announced $5.3 million funding to support sustainable hunting in Victoria, and along with our colleagues from the Australian Deer Association, I attended the special interest group meeting to read the Victorian State Budget, and saw the fine print on this funding first-hand.
We’ve also been giving our conservation credentials a workout: submissions have been made regarding Ramsar wetland treaty obligations for conservation and wise use – thankyou to the branches and members who lent us their expertise; as well the Water for Victoria discussion paper, and the draft plan of Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2036. While it’s not hands-on practical conservation, the planning, regulation and legislation around water use and wetland habitats is a major issue for both hunters and waterbirds, and Field & Game Australia will be putting the interests of the hunter/conservationist forward with these submissions.
Some of the National Office staff - myself included - will be squeezing in some short hunting trips in between the hard work. With just seven weekends left in the Victorian season, I encourage you to do the same, whether it's quail or duck. Hunt often, safely, and ethically, and enjoy the great wild food.