The CSIRO is developing a new virus to tackle booming rabbit numbers.

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Armed protesters to target Vic hunters; hunting instructors rewarded; new bunny-beating virus; PM’s shooting claims wrong; Africa appeals to Asia in poaching battle; elephant poachers arrested; poachers just a part of criminal life; celebrity poacher sentenced.

Armed protesters will target Vic hunters

Infamous anti-hunting campaigner Laurie Levy says his Coalition Against Duck Shooting protesters will dress in camouflage and go armed into wetlands when this year’s duck season opens in Victoria. Under new laws that keep protesters further away from hunters and hunting areas than ever before, he says this is the only way his supporters can “collect the evidence that shooters are committing acts of cruelty”. Rod Drew, CEO of Field and Game Australia, dismissed the announcement as a bluff. Levy says protesters will not be shooting, but they will have the necessary licences and permits to possess firearms and enter the wetlands. It’s not clear how anti-protesting laws would apply to licensed ‘hunters’ who were actually there to protest and disrupt hunting. Legitimate hunters are uneasy about the threat of facing armed protesters, given the criminal activities of activists in previous years.

Hunting instructors rewarded

Firearm instructors in Montana, USA, have been recognised with service awards. The high regard afforded to instructors, who are all volunteers, provides a contrast with Australia, where we have such a divisive debate over hunting. One instructor had given 35 years of service. They train students as young as 11 in subjects ranging from safe firearm handling to outdoors skills and even things like the carrying capacity of the land. Conservation is a key part of the training. “I guess I just enjoy teaching it,” Dale Jorgenson, a 10-year veteran, said. “It is good to see these young folks come out.” In the region Jorgenson works in, there are 300 instructors who share the teaching of around 2000 new hunters annually.

New bunny-beating virus

The CSIRO is working on a new virus to control Australia’s resurgent rabbit population. As with most feral animals, rabbits have responded too well to several good seasons, rebounding after the population was hit hard by Calisivirus and the ongoing but lesser effects of myxomatosis. Rabbits are estimated to do about $200 million of damage to agriculture every year.

PM’s shooting claims wrong

The federal government’s push into the gun-crime fighting arena has been damaged after figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics proved Prime Minister Julia Gillard wrong. The PM claimed Sydney was the scene of a “soaring” number of shootings, but in fact the number of drive-by incidents and similar shootings has peaked is now beginning to decline. NSW police have reported a number of breakthroughs over the past months as various taskforces focussed on the crimes.

Africa appeals to Asia in poaching battle

African nations are continuing to call on Asian nations to provide greater cooperation in the fight against ivory and rhino horn trafficking as poaching of elephants and rhinoceroses continues to get worse. The Congo has asked Asian nations to return seized ivory to its country of origin, but endemic corruption in Africa has raised questions about whether that’s such a good idea. The value of rhino horn on the Asian market – where it is crushed and sold as a hangover cure and other false remedies – has reportedly prompted buyers to pay inflated prices for antique products at Australian auctions. The consumption of horn is a status symbol to many Asian buyers, despite the fact it is essentially no different from finger nails.

Elephant poachers arrested

Two elephant poachers in Zimbabwe have been arrested after being caught with 224kg of tusks. They are both local men who were dealing in ivory. The 27 tusks, plus five other pieces of ivory, were valued at $56,000.

Poachers just a part of criminal life

While Australian Greens say a handful of incidents involving illegal activities by licensed hunters is cause to ban hunting, authorities in the USA continue to treat crime as crime and focus on the perpetrators. Recent examples include the sentencing of five men in Tennessee over the illegal killing of an elk out of season; they must pay a total of $28,000 in fines and costs and will not be allowed to hunt for the next 18 years. Two teens face court in Montana for illegally killing a pregnant moose out of season in what’s been called a ‘thrill kill’ involved multiple shots with a small-calibre firearm. In that case, the community rallied, raising funds for a reward, though in the end it was the police investigation that nabbed the offenders. The cow’s meat was recovered and donated to a food bank.

Celebrity poacher sentenced

In Kansas, a hunter famous for his appearances on a cable-TV hunting show was been sentenced over a 2007 poaching case in which he was hunting on land not allowed by his permit. The buck he took while bow hunting has cost him $20,000 and a six-month hunting suspension in two states. He also had to forfeit the antlers he took.


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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.

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