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SSAA Victoria News

SSAA funds ground-breaking deer research

SSAA Victoria and SSAA National are injecting $30,000 into ground-breaking research on Sambar deer. The Parks Victoria project will see the species captured and collared with GPS trackers, to provide valuable information about their movements and ecology. If successful, it will be the first time Sambar have been successfully captured and collared anywhere in the world. SSAA Victoria President and National Vice President Denis Moroney said the organisation was proud to be at the forefront of deer research. “We are so fortunate to be in a strong financial position that allows us to fund this research,” Denis said. “We anticipate that this project will provide the facts and data we need to formulate sensible and fact-driven hunting regulations and control programs.” The state and national bodies will both provide $15,000 over two years to the valuable pilot project. The aim of Stage one is to GPS collar up to eight deer on the Bogong High Plains, preferably a mix of mature males and females.  It will track the location of these deer over the course of a two-year period. Other deer species have been captured and collared before for research purposes. In New Zealand, Sika deer have been successfully radio collared, as have White-Tailed deer and other species in the United States. Closer to home, Red deer have been successfully collared in Queensland. If successful, it will be the first time in recorded history that the illusive Sambar deer is capture and collared. Based on the results of those studies, Parks Victoria and SSAA are reasonably confident the collars will work effectively and provide valuable data. The research will aim to answer the following:
  1. How does deer behaviour/movement vary daily and seasonally against weather variables?
  2. What is the extent of the home range of a Sambar deer?
  3. What habitats do deer prefer and how do they use these habitats?
  4. Where do Sambar from high elevation go in winter? Do they move down the elevation gradient and, if so, how far? Is control of alpine sambar better achieved away from peatlands during the winter months?
The long-term aim of the project is to improve the design and development of cost-effective, targeted control programs to protect key environmental assets in alpine areas. GPS tracking collars will be fitted to both male and female Sambar, and, at a specific time, they will drop off the animals. “We are well aware that some of the project’s objectives do not necessarily align exactly with SSAA’s views on deer,” Denis said. “However, hunters have long called for accurate data on Sambar deer. Funding the research provides us input into its planning and operation, as well as access to the data.” A project working group, consisting of representatives from Parks Victoria, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, the ACT Parks and Conservation Service and the SSAA Victoria, has been established to co-ordinate the project. SSAA has offered in-kind assistance to the project. If volunteer opportunities arise when the project progresses, the Association will inform members. To view SSAA Victoria’s letter of commitment to the program (sent to Parks Victoria), click here.

Hunting plan progress report

The Victorian State Government has released the first quarterly progress report on the Sustainable Hunting Action Plan (SHAP). The concept of a quarterly report is excellent. In theory, it will inform all stakeholders and the general public of the progress of the plan. It will also keep the various government departments, responsible for specific actions, accountable. Unfortunately, while the first report paints a positive picture, the reality is that there is no great substance to it. It speaks mainly in generalities about what the plan is supposed to deliver. Stakeholders already know what it is supposed to deliver, but they want to know how it is going to be delivered, who is responsible for doing the work, when it will be done and where it will be done. The report should provide updates on the status of each individual action, according to the criteria. The report contains a couple of positive announcements. It reminds readers that the Game Hunting in Victoria manual has been produced. The manual is a fine resource that all licensed game hunters in Victoria should now have received. The Association encourages every hunter to read it. Spare copies are available from the SSAA State Office. The report also reveals that $40000 has been allocated to support the preservation of the National Hunting Archive. It is another good initiative that SSAA Victoria is pleased to see funded. As a major stakeholder representing hunters in Victoria, SSAA Victoria has been promised involvement in the implementation process. It has identified the actions most relevant to our members and will ensure it is involved in them. SSAA Victoria initiated meetings with Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR); with Department for Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Parks Victoria to discuss the SHAP implementation and SSAA Victoria involvement. Further meetings are being scheduled with the Game Management Authority (GMA). SSAA Victoria enjoys a good working relationship with those departments and the personnel working for them. The Association looks forward to continuing that relationship and being actively involved in the implementation of the SHAP. Specific details of that involvement are being considered at the moment. SSAA Victoria expects to see detailed strategies, project plans and benchmarks being announced as soon as possible, clearly outlining stakeholder involvement. The SHAP outlines a positive direction for hunting in Victoria and the Government seems to be genuinely committed to it. SSAA Victoria is aware that bureaucracies move slowly, but a plan that purports to be for 2016-2020 needs to move faster than it is. The Association will also advocate for a better format for future quarterly reports, one that clearly identifies where individual actions are, compared to detailed set targets. View the quarterly report here.

What could have been … the failed proposals

Today’s announcement that the Victorian Police Minister has assured SSAA Victoria only two amendments will be made to the Victorian Firearms Act is highly significant. Interpreting the 1996 National Firearms Agreement (NFA) or the new 2017 NFA alone is challenging. But identifying the differences between the two documents is even more difficult. The table below is designed to inform SSAA Victoria members of the real threat facing firearm owners earlier this year. In February, just five months ago, it became clear that the NFA consultation at a national level was disingenuous. At that time, the Victorian Police Minister, who was unwilling to meet with the firearms industry, appeared ready to adopt all of the NFA changes. The centre column of the below table outlines some of the major changes to firearm laws set-out in the NFA (1996 and 2017); in the left-hand column is what the anti-gun groups lobbied the government for; and in the right-hand column are the changes we now face. While it is disappointing lever-action shotguns will be recategorised, the outcome would have been far worse without the firearm industry’s active lobbying efforts. Let's also not forget that removing address from firearm licences will now improve security for every firearm owner. Make no mistake - this was a win for shooters.

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What was proposed

What Victoria will get

No access to firearms without a licence (no come-and-try) No junior licences Addresses removed from firearm licences
No junior firearm licences Tafe-level safety training prior to firearm licences being issued Lever-action shotguns recategorised
No lever-action firearms Transferring conditions governed by the Firearms Act into regulations, so they could be changed without Parliamentary approval
No firearms above one-shot Mandatory 28-day waiting periods for all permits to acquire
End goal: No private firearm ownership Post WWII pistols currently allowed to be owned by collectors as operable, to be made inoperable
Onerous requirements for storage where multiple firearms are kept at one property
Restrictions to approved target shooting organisations and events that meet genuine reason requirement
Recategorising lever-action shotguns with a magazine capacity no greater than five rounds from A to B
Obtaining a licence for an ‘occupational’ interest changed from “genuine reason” to “genuine need” – a harder test
The removal of Category C and D firearms from occupational/professional shooters would restrict professional pest culling operations or make them ineffective.
In the 1996 Agreement the word ‘must’ is used 15 times and in the 2002 Agreement six times. In the 2017 Agreement the word is used 58 times. It means what was discretionary would become mandatory.
Firearm licence number of both an individual and a dealer to be published in public advertisements along with a firearms serial numbers.

Let’s celebrate Springvale

SSAA Victoria members have been invited to an official celebration at the Springvale Range on Thursday, August 3. Following the recent purchase of the range, the Association wanted to thank all of those involved in the project, and promote the range to the wider public. Chief Executive Officer Jack Wegman said the celebration would also be a great opportunity to thank all of the members who supported the Springvale Range over the past 30 years, including the staff and contractors. “The Springvale Range is a hub for the shooting sports,” he said. “The truth is, we would never have reached this point without the support of everyone who built up the range and kept it going over the years, particularly the regular shooters.” The long and convoluted purchase process involved three different valuations, seven different government departments, half a dozen senior bureaucrats and as many ministerial advisors. The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party (SFFP) also played a vital role in the sale, by ensuring the Land Revocation Bill passed through Victorian Parliament last year. Both Jeff Bourman and Daniel Young supported SSAA Victoria throughout the four-year project, which was much appreciated by the Association. The State Office has been inundated by celebratory emails and phone calls since the official announcement was made to the membership on Wednesday, June 28. Jack thanked all the members who had reached out to the office with words of encouragement. Official invitations will be sent to key people over the next week, but an open invitation is being extended to all members. Speeches and the official celebration will be held in the Springvale Range bistro from 6pm to 7pm, with cocktail catering supplied. The formal celebration will be combined with an open night from 7pm to 9pm, when the public is invited to shoot 50 rounds with a rifle and five rounds with a pistol for just $10. To register your attendance for catering purposes, please call the State Office on 03 8892 277 or email state_office@ssaavic.com.au
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