In the lead up to the opening of the 2017 duck and quail seasons in South Australia, Field & Game Australia has been on the ground seeking outcomes for our members and other hunters.
We have officially welcomed Waikerie as a new Field & Game branch joining our other SA branches Keith, Kingston SE, and Barmera-Moorook. Barmera-Moorook, a conservation-based branch engaged in management of the Loveday wetland wasted no time in visiting the Waikerie shooting ground to smash a few clays and get to know their new neighbours. FGA conducted Waterfowl Identification training in Adelaide and the Riverland pre-season, extending our role as hunter educators in the state. We have also worked closely with Government and the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources to keep our members informed about the progress of issuing permits.
Following the season announcement FGA asked a number of questions of the SA State Government around the assessment process and continued closure of Bool Lagoon, a dedicated State Game reserve, which seemed at odds with the prevailing conditions. In the past two years, we have provided papers to the SA Government and others stating our clear view that seasonal decisions must have a base in facts and data.
The experience of hunters across South Australia over the opening weekend of 18 and 19 February 2017 demonstrated what nature will do when wet conditions creates vast areas of healthy wetland habitat and the resultant breeding that was identified in the latter part of the year.
A number of points were raised in the response to FGA, and while the offer to "…further discuss possible opportunities for FGA to become involved in South Australian waterfowl surveys or on-ground wetland management…” is welcomed, the reality is that FGA members are already extremely active in surveying waterfowl and wetlands as part of the 100 wetlands survey methodology. That volunteer effort is widely recognised as a valuable resource and we anticipate this will continue, and our growing membership indicates potential for increased participation.
We’re pleased to finally be provided with details for the decision to close Bool Lagoon Game Reserve to hunting in 2017. However a question remains on the relevance of this information to the decision to keep close this Game Reserve to hunting in 2017 and in 2005, the last time this Game Reserve provided hunting opportunities.
FGA has consistently promoted an adaptive management model underpinned by appropriate science and data to manage sustainable hunting. We have consistently called out decisions made in the absence of/or contrary to the available evidence and we make no apology for doing so on behalf of hunters. Our approach is consistent and as Australia’s leading wetland conservation and duck hunter organisation, it is what our many thousands of members expect. We take the same approach in South Australia as we do in any other jurisdiction; we work with Government and relevant Departments on real outcomes. We operate in a respectful manner and prefer to raise concerns privately but when issues are already in the public domain, we will speak up for the hunters whose interests we represent.
Our original letter and the official response received are published in full below for the information of members.