Witnessing the events unfold as Lake Elizabeth State Game Reserve was closed is one of the most disappointing experiences I've had. This incredible disappointment is shared by everyone at Field & Game Australia, and by other hunting organisations. I know that disappointment has nothing on the real impact experienced by all the hunters camped at Elizabeth, who were busy setting out their decoy spreads and going about their preparations for what should have been the opening of their duck hunting season in a few short hours' time.
The timing of the closure meant many hunters were reduced to little or no prospects of hunting in the morning. No doubt this is a major objective of the animal liberation activists. The question is whether this Government accepts the consequences of their unprecedented action taken late on the Friday before opening? Especially after publicly stating support for duck hunting in the lead-up to the last state election.
The Field & Game Australia team and Board continue to work on this issue, ensuring that your voice is heard as we seek to find alternatives. You can be sure this remains our priority focus. We’ve been lobbying to get your voice heard, and continuing to work on alternatives to access hunting. We’re also closely monitoring the processes in place to assess Elizabeth for re-opening.
I personally spent a day at parliament and shared your feedback and stories in a series of meetings. While at parliament I witnessed Jaala Pulford, Minister for Agriculture, provide a statement on the Elizabeth closure. Daniel Young, Field & Game Australia member and Shooters & Fishers Party Member for Northern Victoria, raised a question around the closures.
One of your Board members lead a group of Field & Game Australia volunteers at Johnson Swamp State Game Reserve, putting in an incredible effort under extremely trying conditions to gather information on the Australasian Bittern, as we work to have this State Game Reserve opened for 2016. We’re actively involved in reviews of other wetlands to create access for duck hunting, and we’ll continue to provide updates.
I've had the privilege of speaking with many hunters who were camped at Lake Elizabeth State Game Reserve, and every conversation turns to “what can I do?” Here’s a summary of what you can do, our thanks to everyone who has already written.
Make Yourself Heard
Write to your local member, write to Daniel Andrews, write to Minister Jaala Pulford and Minister Lisa Neville. The Andrews Labor Government has stated its support of duck hunting in Victoria, you can remind them of this fact.
Tell them your story, your experience, and let them know that the decision has had a very real impact.
You can remind them that hunting provides $439 million to the Victorian economy, with much of it in regional and rural areas.
You can remind the Premier about when he stated his support and his government’s support for duck hunting during his pre-election campaign.
You can remind your local member that they represent you, and you support the continuation of sustainable, ethical hunting in Victoria; better access for hunters; proper science and research into sustainable hunting; clear processes and timely information on closures; and the conservation and preservation of vital wetland habitat.
There is also choice of how your voice is heard. You can write letters and you can also send your message by email, or raise questions using social media like Twitter.
The Hon Jaala Pulford
15 Main Road
Ballarat VIC 3350
The Hon Daniel Andrews
Office of the Premier
1 Treasury Place
Melbourne VIC 3002
The Hon Lisa Neville
Shop 1, Newcomb Central
71 Bellarine Highway
Newcomb VIC 3219
Keep to the facts, and remember we are all ambassadors for hunting. Hunters are respectful, demonstrated by the Field & Game Australia members who pulled a protesters’ hire bus out of soft sand as it was getting dark on the opening Saturday. Hunters respect people, even when they stand in their decoys, waving poles and flags to disturb birds during their hunt.
Above all, you can get out and hunt, and show that sustainable, ethical hunting is here to stay.
It’s incredible to see supposedly austere animal rights organisations like the RSPCA change stories when challenged with facts and evidence. We’ve been working on several fronts to ensure the facts, not fiction, are in the public domain. Thanks to every one of you who asked the animal libbers and protesters for facts and evidence, your support has been fantastic.
Have a wonderful hunting season, enjoying the time spent with family and friends as you harvest a meal of wonderful wild duck.