Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Do duck rescuers harass shooters or is it fair game?

This coming weekend the 2012 Victorian duck shooting season will open.

As in passed years, the opening weekend will attract large numbers of shooter and a sizeable group of rescuers. 

The shooters are there to shoot. 

The rescuers are there to monitor, aid injured wildlife and warn birds of the danger. 

There is little love lost between shooters and rescuers and while I have never been out on the wetlands myself, I would guess that both sides like to sledge. 

Yet will this duck season be the same as in years gone past? That will be decided in the Melbourne Magistrates Court over the next week when six rescuers will face charges of 'hindering and harassing' shooters.   

This is an important test case because until now it has not been clear what constitutes 'hindering and harassing'. 

The charges follow a crack down by the Victorian Government. If the case brought against duck rescuers is successful it could have serious implications for future duck rescue campaigns - but then I guess that's the point. 

In a press release put out today campaign director Laurie Levy used strong language to infer that the charges are part of a larger project intended to drive duck rescuers away from the wetlands:

The wildlife compliance officers who devised the sting were not only duck shooters, but some were also office bearers of the shooting organisations, Field and Game Australia and the Sporting Shooters Association.  These officers have misused their positions to conspire against duck rescuers.  This not only represents a serious conflict of interest, but is a form of corruption that must be investigated by the soon to be established Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC).

It should be a fascinating case and I look forward to learning the outcome. I wonder whether it will be known before the first shot of the 2012 session is fired. 

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