Field & Game Australia chairman Bill Paterson says anti-hunting activists have crossed the line by declaring their intent to risk public safety, form a pseudo enforcement group of vigilantes and challenge authorities by flouting the regulations in force to protect lawful hunters on wetlands when the 2019 duck season starts on Saturday.
The statement issued by the Coalition Against Duck Shooting (CADS) is a dangerous escalation which encourages activists to take the law into their own hands. It demands a targeted response from regulatory authorities.
Victoria’s 26 000 duck hunters participate in a legal, but highly regulated activity and abide by those laws. Those who don’t should be prosecuted.
For years, activists have been allowed to flout laws restricting when they can enter wetlands and preventing them from impeding or getting too close to hunters. These activists regularly capture birds preventing hunters from retrieving and humanely dispatching them, as required, and prolong their suffering to be seen “rescuing” ducks. The consequence is that hunters can legally harvest another duck to replace the one taken by the activist.
Hunters show respect for the game birds which provide food for the family table and give back through wetland conservation, lobbying for water for wetlands, nesting support and predator management. CADS takes wounded birds before they can be quickly and humanely dispatched, extends their suffering and when they can’t be saved keeps the carcass to toss on the steps of Parliament.
CADS grossly exaggerates the wounding rate and draws a link between the contaminant PFAS and cancer which is contrary to the existing science, sadly, this is familiar behavior.
When activists parade a dead game bird the questions should be how many laws were broken to obtain it? Was it taken from someone who legally hunted it? Was its suffering prolonged? And will it meet a useful end on the table or be wasted to fuel their propaganda?
With reported outbreaks of avian botulism claiming water birds in parts of Victoria, perhaps the first question should be whether a bird was shot at all?