A statement from FGA Chairman Bill Paterson on Duck Opening 2018
There has been a lot of discussion on one element of Field & Game Australia’s submission on the 2018 Victorian Duck Season, as Chairman, it is important I set the record straight and provide some context to members.
FGA has included a recommendation for a mid-week (Wednesday) opening, a direct response to serious concerns about compliance.
The Victorian Government is still deliberating on what its response should be to the illegal and unethical practices identified at Koorangie wetlands near Kerang on opening weekend in 2017.
FGA will again meet with Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford on January 9.
You will recall that the Game Management Authority recorded shooting at Koorangie 30 minutes before opening time and hundreds of dead game birds and some protected species were left in the water unrecovered.
The reputation of the majority of hunters who follow the rules and cherish their duck hunting tradition was tarnished in the process and make no mistake, the seriousness of the offending put very real pressure on the future of duck hunting.
In the aftermath, both the regulator and the Victorian Government made it patently clear that another Koorangie or Box Flat would not be tolerated. We also understood that FGA needed to be a part of the solution.
Let me be clear, Koorangie was a disaster in every sense and change was going to occur, whether it was agreed or imposed.
A minority might inflict the damage but all hunters suffer the consequences. In 2017 that included a prohibition on hunting at Koorangie, which remained in place for the full season, depriving ethical and responsible hunters of access to iconic wetlands.
We need to eliminate the sort of “feverish” anticipation that stems from having too many hunters congregating on a single wetland complex. Hunting game birds is a test of skill and craft; it should never be reduced to an unseemly race between hunters to get their bag.
Bringing the opening of the season forward to the Wednesday before the third Saturday in March would:
reduce concentration (approximately 43%) of hunters participating in the opening day of the season.
disperse the hunter pressure over the first two-week period where 31% of the annual harvest occurred during 2017.
reduce protestor activity that takes the compliance focus away from hunters.
facilitate improved compliance.
reduce impact on threatened or protected species.
We continue to argue for effective and well-resourced compliance regime to detect and prosecute wrongdoers who have no right to continue to enjoy the privilege of duck hunting and to eliminate the distraction of anti-hunting protestors who should not be on wetlands.
Whatever the Government does, FGA will continue to do its bit to further hunter education and to spread the messages of RESPECT for wildlife, our wetlands and fellow hunters.
FGA is fighting for our duck hunting tradition and the greatest contribution you can make is to hunt ethically and responsibly at all times and to report those who don’t.