It seems to me that a lot of birders know nothing about shooters. I do, I'm
married to one - a very responsible one! Does the birding community know
anything about how the SSAA properties are run? All the properties I know
of in Queensland are run as NATURE REFUGES - all native wildlife is
protected and the SSAA is happy for birders to do surveys etc on these
properties. I know for example that Bundamba Lagoon at Ripley is on a SSAA
property and is a site that is monitored monthly by local bird clubs.
I have been to the SSAA property at Captain's Mountain (Milmerran) several
times in the past few years with "The Gold Coast Gun Club" of which my
husband is a member. I have access to the entire property in complete
safety, the only stipulation being that I stay away from the various ranges
- all of which are for target only shooting. In fact, if an animal such as
a Grey Kangaroo or a bird such as an emu (and yes once when I was there an
emu with 7 chicks walked onto the range) the entire shooting competition is
stopped until the animal walks off the range and is at a safe distance away
before the competition can resume. All competitions are supervised by a
Range Officer and the rules are adhered to with every "i" dotted and "t"
crossed to the letter of the law.
The attitude of the club members to a "mad keen birder" in their presence
has slowly changed over the times I have attended. To start with I was
somewhat of a curiosity and the butt of some jokes about greenies but the
last time I went out there (and I took a friend from my Club) (March 2011) a
lot of the shooters were even becoming interested in birds and what we were
seeing, especially the Glossy Black Cockatoos as these are a bird they've
heard about due to the GBC Conservancy efforts on the Gold Coast and GBC's
are also found on the Captains Mountain property. In May, members of our
birding club (BrisBOCA) have been invited out for the weekend, once more
with the Gold Coast Gun Club. The subject of duck shooting is bound to
arise but what better opportunity to change someone's viewpoint - there's
plenty of opportunity for shooting without ducks needing to be the target
and that's the message we need to get across - not one of banning
responsible shooting altogether.
It seems to me that the birding community could do more to engage with
shooters and also possibly fishermen instead of being so negative. After
all, we are all people who enjoy the great outdoors. Education and
friendship wins a lot more battles than criticism and judgemental attitudes
based on prejudices. And, on the question of feral animal control - I own
a property and my husband and daughter have between them shot 16 feral pigs
and 3 feral dogs in the 11 years we have lived here - no native animals have
been harmed, a lot of my property is being allowed to return to native
vegetation and my birdlist is at 156 species, some of which are on the
Vulnerable list. A shooter who also cares about wildlife lives here!
Shooting in National Parks is an entirely different proposition and would
need the park to be "closed" for a certain period if feral animal control
was the aim. It would need to be strictly controlled and limited to
specially licensed shooters.
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