"Fair and balanced" verdict on 60 Minutes hunting report
If public response to 60 Minutes story on hunting animals is any indication, there is an overwhelmingly positive reaction to Australian families taking up the gun in pursuit of deer at least (as opposed to the wonderful characterization of English fox hunts as "the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable" by Oscar Wilde). Judging by the timing of the comments, those shocked at hunting or teaching kids to hunt commented almost immediately, while those that thought it was a balanced or positive story came in over a longer period.
Of more than 100 comments on the 60 Minutes blog, the vast majority seem to be pleased that the story was balanced and showed hunters in a decent light. There are some comments made in horror that anyone could teach their children gun or hunting skills, but these are strongly outweighed by those that think it's an excellent idea. A few negatives about the gun safety (or apparent lack of it) in the story and certainly my gun-using colleagues were of the view that Lisa Oldfield's shooting style was very unlikely to result in her hitting anything. I'm afraid I'm not qualified to comment.
My involvement was mostly ignored, apart from one or two comments that I'm a dope (no surprises). I was happy that the hunters involved didn't make grand claims that recreational hunting is the solution to our feral animal problems. Perhaps the positive public reaction will make them confident that they don't need to necessarily justify their sport through the label "conservation hunting"?
Obviously, as a National show, the story didn't pursue the details of the current debate in NSW, where a Bill is ready to be tabled to extend hunting in that State. Our concern has not really been with the question of whether to hunt or not, but with the provision for Game Reserves that allow release of animals for hunting. Our view, based on published risk assessments, is that more releases will lead to more ferals. So we think that part of the proposal needs really hard scrutiny - even avid hunters I've spoken to didn't even know about the provision.
Certainly people didn't seem to be left with no opinion about the issue, so I guess it was a good story.
Posted by Tony Peacock, founder of 'Feral Thoughts'