The great duck hunting protest on Lake Cullen at duck season opening on Saturday turned into high farce with hunters staying away from the lake in droves.
After being alerted to the protester plans, hunters instead chose many of the other State Game Reserves open to them or private property to take their bags.
That meant protesters outnumbered hunters at Lake Cullen and the media stunt planned through the Coalition Against Duck Shooting (CADS) and its new poster boy Andy Meddick MP from the Animal Justice Party was little more than a sideshow.
“There was the usual nonsense including protesters creating dangerous situations by canoeing into firing zones,” said SSAA Victoria Hunting Development Manager David Laird who was at the lake.
“But the hunters who were there didn’t shoot early and suffered the protester harassment without incident.
“Overall the only thing Meddick and (CADS representative) Laurie Levy chose to complain to the media about was there being fewer hunters to complain about.”
Levy and Meddick rallied dozens of anti-duck hunting bigots to Lake Cullen to set up camp including a ‘triage’ tent and woodfired pizza oven.
However, only a handful of hunters were prepared to suffer their foolishness with most choosing other wetlands or to hunt on private land.
That didn’t stop Meddick and Levy from claiming victory. They spun their failure into it being a sign that duck hunting had lost popularity.
“It’s good to see these media outlets showing a bit of professionalism by seeking to balance their stories,” SSAA Victoria Communications Manager Justin Law said.
“But the claim that duck hunting is somehow dying a death is ridiculous and a grasp for relevance by a new Upper House politician who rode in on the current wave of animal activism popularity.
“I think they were embarrassed that they tricked all these people into driving all the way to Kerang for what turned out to be, from their perspective, a fizzer.
“The only thing they appear to have performed emergency surgery on in their triage tent was the truth.”
The biggest hiccup was the closure of Lake Elizabeth on Friday evening after less than 50 Freckled Duck were counted among an estimated 3000 ducks.
“That was a big disappointment for the many hunters who were camped there on Friday night, especially as it appears to be a reaction to pressure from anti-hunting political groups,” Mr Laird said.
“Hunters take the Waterfowl Identification Test so they can pick game species from protected birds, so this is completely overly cautious and again hunters are penalised.”
The Game Management Authority said in its media release, “the Victorian Government is closing Lake Elizabeth near Kerang for the beginning of the 2019 duck hunting season to protect a significant population of freckled ducks found on the lake.
“The closure will be in place for seven days during which time it will be monitored to determine if it will remain closed to hunting for a longer period.
“If the numbers of freckled duck decline substantially then it will be recommended to be reopened to hunting.”
Mr Laird said SSAA Victoria will continue to update members on the status of the wetlands throughout the season.
“We’re pushing to have the wetlands reopened and hopefully a bit of common sense will prevail,” he said.