|When Wildfowling Magazine
was a printed publication back in 1994 - 1996, there were two
campaigns that the magazine ran and which received tremendous
support from our readership.
The first one, spearheaded by David
Frost of the Chichester Harbour Wildfowlers, was to bring back the
dark-bellied brent goose on to the quarry list. In the second
campaign, Phil Gray of Whittlesey Wildfowlers and Conservationists
called for the restoration of the curlew to the list of birds that
wildfowlers could legally shoot.
The logic behind both of those
campaigns was unassailable. There were no earthly reasons for
continuing protection of those two traditional wildfowling quarry
species (if, indeed, there ever had been) yet both still remain on
the menu of forbidden fruits.
Then, of course, there was the lead
shot issue. Once more there was absolutely no convincing scientific evidence
to sustain the arguments for the type of lead shot ban that has been
imposed in England. But the voice of wildfowlers failed to prevent crazy
legislation being enacted.
The point of raising those spectres
once more is that we should by now have learned a very painful
lesson. Once we lose something, we have about 1% of bugger-all
chance of ever getting it back again. The conclusion is quite simple
- we must fight tooth and nail, and then some more, to avoid losing
anything else that is precious to our wildfowling heritage. Whether
future threats come from the British government, devolved Welsh or
Scottish institutions or from Europe, we must be prepared to
campaign much more effectively than in the past.
Along with thousands of other
wildfowlers, I travelled to London for the Countryside March in
support of fox-hunting (in which I have no personal interest). I
would have done so again this year, had not F&M Disease
scuppered that demonstration. But why were tens of thousands of
wildfowlers, supported by quarter of a million other fieldsports
participants, not on the streets of the capital city to protest
about the threat to lead shot?
Future threats to our ancient pursuit
could come in the forms of a restriction to the foreshore shooting
season, restrictions on shooting by moonlight, further restrictions
upon shotgun ownership and use or further restrictions upon what
species we might shoot or where we might shoot them.
If we lose any of those battles, we
will never regain the lost ground. We cannot afford to lose any
more. We must be prepared to fight.
Recently there has been a lot of
silliness expressed by people who seem to have a vendetta against
the BASC or its senior staff. Of course the BASC has made mistakes
in the past and of course it has not always fought for our cause as
effectively as we might have liked. But it is the only real
organisation we have got and we must support it.
What wildfowlers must do is
re-established the prominence they once held within the BASC (and
its predecessor WAGBI) and make it crystal clear that we will not
tolerate any further attacks upon our sport. Let's help build a
strong organisation that can really serve wildfowling, rather than
sniping at it from the fringes.
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