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SSAA Victoria News

Those who do the right thing are made to pay

SSAA Victoria is surprised after the Game Management Authority (GMA) published a media release condemning hunter behaviour at Saturday’s duck opening. This release comes after the department issued a statement on Saturday afternoon praising hunter behaviour. In the release, a spokesperson said, “A high level of compliance was observed across the State by more than 150 staff from across government agencies, including the GMA, Victoria Police, Parks Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water, Planning and the Department of Economic Development, Jobs and Transport … The vast majority of hunters did the right thing today by acting safely, responsibly and in accordance with the law … A total of eight hunting infringement for minor offences … have been issued.” But today’s release by Greg Hyams, CEO of GMA, uses language and tone that casts doubts over all hunters, not just those acting illegally, unethically and in conflict with the interests of the vast majority. The release states: “Birds were left in the water, including significant numbers of protected species, such as threatened Freckled and Blue-billed Ducks. Several hunters also commenced shooting up to half an hour before the season opened.” In addition to illegal behaviour, Mr Hyams said many hunters were behaving unethically or irresponsibly. “Hunters have been taking excessively long shots well outside of their shooting skills distance, resulting in wounding and lost birds. Some made no attempt to recover downed birds and kept shooting.” It seems more information has come to light since the first statement was released. SSAA Victoria has an excellent working relationship with GMA, and supports the current legislation and ethical frameworks in place. It’s why we are disappointed in the turn of events today. SSAA joins GMA in condemning illegal and unethical behaviour by any hunters and it takes this very seriously. However, the tone of this particular release paints a completely negative picture of the tens of thousands of duck hunters who do behave responsibly, ethically and legally. We call on the State Government to adequately fund the GMA to ensure it can do its job and hold to account those who do the wrong thing. Hunters have long called for greater enforcement activities targeting illegal behaviour in all areas of hunting. In light of what looks like an inability to fully enforce the law and clean up illegal activity, it is seems easier to vilify all hunters and blame them for the problem. However let’s not condemn the thousands of responsible hunters who do the right thing because of the actions of the few who do not. SSAA Victoria also calls on members to report illegal activities by hunters online or calling Crimestoppers.

Government refuses to acknowledge NFA hurt

The Andrews Government on Wednesday refused to support a motion that acknowledged changes to the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) would be unfair to shooters. Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party MP Jeff Bourman has called on the Government to stand by law-abiding shooters and hunters, who have proven to abide by stringent regulations already in place. “Since the NFA was put in place, shooters have abided by the limits placed on them to the use of firearms in shooting sports, recreational hunting and pest control,” Jeff said. The Member for the Eastern Victoria Region introduced on Wednesday a the following motion: I move that this house:
  1. Acknowledges the legitimate recreational pursuits of sporting shooters and hunters.
  2. Recognises the contribution made to the economy and environment by recreational and sporting shooters in Victoria.
  3. Notes that changes currently being proposed to the NFA would place unfair conditions on law-abiding firearm owners, who have already proven to abide by stringent regulations that limit the use of firearms in shooting sports, recreational hunting and pest control.
Jeff said he wanted the Andrews Government to acknowledge the legitimate recreational pursuits of sporting shooters and hunters, and recognise their contributions to the economy and environment. Daniel Young, Member for Northern Victoria Region, added: “You don’t get to say you support hunting and shooting sports and then slap law-abiding firearm owners with additional restrictive regulations that do not support shooters and hunters. That would be no different than saying you support fishing and then ban fishing rods.”

Hunting seasons fast approaching

Duck opening weekend is now behind us and, while SSAA Victoria members are still talking about the season, some of their attention has turned to the other game species seasons in Victoria. Saturday, April 1 is a big day on the Victorian hunting calendar, with seasons for quail, Hog deer and the hunting of Sambar deer with scent trailing hounds commencing. Only hunters with Game Licences endorsed for deer (stalking) can hunt Hog deer during the season, which runs until April 30. SSAA Victoria would like to remind members that in order to hunt Hog deer they will need tags – available only through Game Management Authority (GMA) online. The tags will be posted out, so anyone hoping to hunt early in the season should order them now. The bag limit is one stag and one hind for the season and successful hunters must present their animal/s to a checking station. Details are provided in the information pack that accompanies the tags. Hunters are also required to complete a hunter return form at the end of the season and send it to GMA. The quail bag limit is 20 birds per day and Game Licences must be endorsed for game birds to hunt these challenging (and tasty) little rockets. Good luck to all those who get out in the paddocks and stubble before June 30 in search of them. While there are no bag limits for hunting Sambar deer with scent-trailing hounds, hunters must have their Game Licence endorsed for deer (hounds). To get that endorsement, they must sit a test that covers legislation and welfare considerations. The season concludes on November 30, but closes for Easter this year from April 14 to 19. Deer (except Hog deer) stalking is open year-round for people who have Game Licences endorsed for deer (stalking). No tests have to be sat to receive that endorsement. Duck season does continue until June 12. Many members will make the most of the full season and 10-bird limit this year. The SSAA Victoria State Office would love to hear about successful hunts, so feel free to email us at state_office@ssaavic.com.au or call 03 8892 2777 and let us know how your hunting is going. Whatever you hunt, enjoy yourselves, be safe and hunt with RESPECT.

Herald Sun bins SSAA Victoria’s comments

The Sunday Herald Sun yesterday was silent on the duck season opening. But an article was written. The page-two piece was pulled at last minute and replaced with an article about the Adele concert. A story about a recreation that brings $99 million to the economy each year, $46 million of which is spent on hunting trips, was replaced by an entertainment article. What’s more perplexing is that the article that was pulled has been obtained by SSAA Victoria and it contained no record of the comments the Association provided for the story. That article has now been printed verbatim by the Courier Mail online. The Association contacted the author, Monique Hore, this morning to question her as to why the comments did not appear in the story. Monique said her original story did contain comments from SSAA Victoria but they were removed in the editing process without her knowledge. SSAA Victoria wants its members to know that the Association put in a lot of time and effort to ensure the Sunday Herald Sun piece contained accurate and balanced information. Below are the questions asked by the reporter and the answers the Association provided in writing well before the deadline. Sometimes it feels like banging your head against a brick wall. The best way to show your displeasure is to stop buying the Herald Sun and Sunday Herald Sun.   COMMENTS: Additional quotes: All reports from our members have been really positive. Hunting success varied throughout the state due to local conditions but most hunters took birds home. There were plenty of ducks around the Gippsland region this morning, and numbers were high up near Cohuna as well. Hunter behaviour across the board was excellent as reported by our members and the authorities on the ground. Game Management Authority reported really good compliance across the state. Families across Victoria sat down to fresh, organic duck last night and that’s what we love. Why should Victoria continue to have duck hunting? Duck hunting provides a great boost to Victoria economy each year, particularly in regional areas. Duck hunters spend $99 million per annum in Victoria on their sport. More than $40 million of that is spent while away on duck hunting trips. How do you respond to animal welfare groups that call duck hunting cruelty? Duck hunting is not for everyone, just as horse racing or basketball is not for everyone. But I do want to emphasise that hunting is no crueller than what happens in nature. Hunters abide by ethical codes; they are licensed and tested; they respect the environment and the animals; and the activity is heavily regulated. Should Victorians be able to shoot without protesters? Duck hunters are licensed and responsible people who are participating in a legal activity. They should have the right to participate in that legal activity without being harassed by extremist activists. (On the six arrests) Some of these activists have shown no respect for the licensed game hunters and they have shown no respect for the law; putting themselves in harm’s way and illegally entering specific hunting areas during prohibited times. Animal welfare groups have reported banned species, including the freckled duck, were shot in Marsh near Kerang today. Is that disappointing? Duck hunters undergo the Waterfowl Identification Test prior to obtaining their Game Licence for duck hunting. This means they have demonstrated that they can identify species of duck in flight and on land, and incorrect identification rarely occurs. SSAA Victoria spoke with game compliance officers and the Game Management Authority yesterday (Saturday) and has received no confirmation of any freckled ducks being shot. If we hear otherwise, through the correct channels, SSAA Victoria will take it very seriously. We will be the first to condemn any illegal shooting of banned duck species.
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