We have had a busy couple of weeks with the immensely successful start of the Victorian Duck Season.
Congratulations to everybody who hunted in Victoria during the past 3 weeks. You have shown that when we are given the proper framework and support of enforcement that we can successfully and sustainable hunt ducks. Our actions have helped ensure the future of hunting for our children and generations to come.
We have been working hard over the weeks preceding opening to get the regulations straightened out and to then deal with the closures.
I was disappointed in the closures process. While Daryl Snowdon and I were involved in the call with the GMA, as was David Laird of SSAA and a Birds Australia representative, I felt that again our opinion was not listened to by the GMA or the government. I suspect some of the closures were not based purely on protected species limits (>100 for a large wetland and >20 for a small wetland). Closing of Koorangie (when there was no water in it) and Hirds just for the opening weekend was bizarre. And the closing of Lake Martin late on Thursday afternoon before the Easter long weekend, with people already there, or travelling there to hunt was dejavu; Lake Elizabeth from 2 years ago. This is not the way to win hunters support.
I spent opening weekend in the Kerang area and had the pleasure of meeting many hunters and FGA members.
What was immediately evident was the large enforcement presence. There was a roadblock on the Highway into Kerang with breath testing and compliance officers talking with hunters, educating them on the new regulations.
The miniscule number of mostly game birds that were presented at the Premier’s office today, 3 weeks after opening, is a desperate attempt by the anti’s to grandstand and to drum up flailing support for their lost cause and demonstrates that their arguments are just not valid.
Based on the supplied figures (below) the 73 birds presented today represents 0.13% of the birds harvested over opening weekend. Of these only 6.85% were non-game species (2 coots & 1 Grebe), that means 0.009% of the birds harvested were protected species that were collected! I was disappointed to hear that the dumped birds will not be tested, we have requested that the government undertake testing and publicly report the results. This would clarify many claims and counter claims as to the source of the birds.
There have been some reports that numbers were down for opening, based on the GMA estimate of 2,100 hunters on the 38 wetlands they monitored. This is not the case at all and was misconstrued (or blatantly misrepresented) by some groups as the total number of hunters
Official hunter numbers supplied by GMA and quoted in Hansard by Minister Pulford:
“With respect to the figure of 2100 hunters, that is the estimated number of hunters where agency staff were present at wetlands across the state over the opening weekend. The total number that were actually hunting comes from our phone survey which is conducted after the opening weekend and then every two weeks after that. We have some preliminary figures through which I have included below. These all have to be verified by our statisticians and will be included in our harvest report which is finalised later in the year and includes quail. Deer are dealt with in a separate report, given it is a year long "season".
Based on 24,833 licensed duck hunters as of opening weekend.
Hunted opening weekend: 8,964
Ducks harvested: 56,647
Saturday harvest 45,816
Sunday harvest 10,831
Hunting Public land 61%
Hunting Private land 39%
This is a solid opening and shows that hunters continue to have a significant financial impact and benefit in rural areas and can sustainably harvest ducks.
I have discussed with the government and will continue to lobby for protestors to not be allowed to disrupt the lawful activities of hunters.
I encourage you all to continue to report increasingly dangerous and illegal behavior to VicPol via Crimestoppers. Any information you provide through this avenue helps build an intelligence database against the protestors.
We have a Victorian government grant to undertake a feasibility study of our Willowmavin property and are putting together a team to help us complete this study.
We also have a grant to help digitize and organize our collection at the Australian Hunting Archive and to help achieve goal this I was fortunate to meet with the Registrar of the Australian Sports Museum at the MCG – Mr. Greg Hunter, to see how their collection is organized and run. I got some very good advice on the systems and processes used to preserve, record and catalogue the collections that we can adapt to our archive. It was a privilege to be in the same room with some very significant sporting artifacts. I was particularly amazed to see a box of Olympic and Commonwealth Games medals that had been donated so they can be preserved for all Australians.
Field & Game magazine
We are closing in on the editorial deadline for the next magazine on the 9th April and we have been benchmarking the publishing process to understand what the expected timeline and delivery of the magazine is. It is frustrating that the main variable – Australia Post’s delivery times, running between 3 days to 3 weeks - is beyond our control. The timing of the editorial deadline to receiving the magazine is a balance of getting it to you on time Vs having relevant and timely content. We will continue to closely monitor and adjust this as needed.
There have been recent elections in South Australia and Tasmania and we are planning visits to meet with the relevant new ministers.
I hope you all have safe and successful hunts, particularly with the upcoming Quail season almost upon us.
Richard Light | Chief Executive Officer
Field & Game Australia
AUSTRALIA’S MOST SURPRISING CONSERVATIONISTS