Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

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Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby Xplora » Fri 22 Dec, 2017 3:01 pm

Parks Vic have today released their draft action plan for comment if you are interested. https://engage.vic.gov.au/alpine-nation ... ction-plan
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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby oldpiscator » Fri 22 Dec, 2017 4:32 pm

I would like to see a Draft Action Plan to limit the damage being caused in sensitive Alpine areas by feral humans. I have been a regular visitor to some of these areas for the last 40 or so years and the amount of damage, rubbish etc which has occurred, particularly in the last 2 or 3 years, almost beggars belief.
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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby Xplora » Tue 26 Dec, 2017 2:19 pm

oldpiscator wrote:I would like to see a Draft Action Plan to limit the damage being caused in sensitive Alpine areas by feral humans. I have been a regular visitor to some of these areas for the last 40 or so years and the amount of damage, rubbish etc which has occurred, particularly in the last 2 or 3 years, almost beggars belief.

Capture has been trialed but they are always released. Biological or chemical control may work as would fertility control but given feral humans often begin reproducing 10 years sooner than the domestic variety, genetic material is passed on quicker than actions against it can take place. Medical intervention and technology has all but halted natural selection.
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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby stry » Wed 27 Dec, 2017 7:51 am

Xplora wrote:
oldpiscator wrote:I would like to see a Draft Action Plan to limit the damage being caused in sensitive Alpine areas by feral humans. I have been a regular visitor to some of these areas for the last 40 or so years and the amount of damage, rubbish etc which has occurred, particularly in the last 2 or 3 years, almost beggars belief.

Capture has been trialed but they are always released. Biological or chemical control may work as would fertility control but given feral humans often begin reproducing 10 years sooner than the domestic variety, genetic material is passed on quicker than actions against it can take place. Medical intervention and technology has all but halted natural selection.


:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: But, sadly, true !

We could add bad thinking and social pressures to your last sentence but still an excellent summation. Evolution, at least in western society, is in reverse, and has been for some time :(
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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Tue 02 Jan, 2018 1:26 pm

I saw some wild horses on the way out to Fitzgerald's hut this week. I reported it by phone to PV in Mt. Beauty.
I saw some corpulent feral knuckle dragging humans stuffing themselves rotten on junk food when I returned to the world where cars can be driven. There was nobody to report that to at all.
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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby Xplora » Wed 03 Jan, 2018 5:52 am

paidal_chalne_vala wrote:I saw some wild horses on the way out to Fitzgerald's hut this week. I reported by phone it to PV in Mt. Beauty.
I saw some corpulent feral knuckle dragging humans stuffing themselves rotten on junk food when I returned to the world where cars can be driven. There was nobody to report that to at all.

We have been monitoring that herd since the middle of last year and they are a priority to catch. PV have some good intel about them thanks to reports from people such as yourself. They are often around Nelse and in the Holland Knob area. The stallion is very quiet but he may be trap shy. There is some suspicion he may be been caught in the Mt. Jim trap a while back and now will not go in. Last year he stole some mares and made a run for new territory. With this years foals the herd is now 15 at last count. One of the mares is a bit of a concern. She did a lot of snorting and looked to make a challenge when we got close. I suspect a few of the mares in that herd are not Bogong bred.

As long as they took their junk food wrappers with them then we can tolerate such behaviour.
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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby GregR » Wed 03 Jan, 2018 11:02 am

There was a small group of 4 or 5 grazing on the ridge that runs parallel to Fainter Fire Track as you leave Tawonga Huts heading back to Pretty Valley pond. I could se them from the top of Mt Jaithmathang on News YearsDay and they were still there 3 hours later when I walked back to the car.

Didn't see any feral humans mercifully, only good decent folk .
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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby Xplora » Thu 04 Jan, 2018 4:49 am

GregR wrote:There was a small group of 4 or 5 grazing on the ridge that runs parallel to Fainter Fire Track as you leave Tawonga Huts heading back to Pretty Valley pond. I could se them from the top of Mt Jaithmathang on News YearsDay and they were still there 3 hours later when I walked back to the car.

Didn't see any feral humans mercifully, only good decent folk .


Thanks Greg. We should be out that way over the weekend and will try to get some photos of them. I am sure PV Mt. Beauty are aware of that herd but things have changed up in the last year and there could be some splinters starting new herds. Having intel on their most common places is the best way to position the traps. Trapping is a slow, ineffective and costly method but that is what they have to do for the moment. None of these bleeding hearts are upset about the 200 plus feral deer shot up on BHP.

Feral humans generally do not venture too far from wheeled transport. In the past they have found, with limited success, putting a gate on a track stopped some of them. Battery grinders were then invented.
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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby sambar358 » Thu 04 Jan, 2018 10:26 am

Unfortunately the Parks "Strategic Action Plan" on feral horse management smacks more of a politically motivated strategy to appease a noisy minority & keep the current government in place rather than a realistic blue-print to address the large feral horse issue as it side-steps using lethal methods of control such as aerial and ground shooting as primary control strategies. Instead the Plan recommends ramping-up of the trapping program which clearly has proven to be expensive and ineffective in the past.

Adopting trapping as the primary means of reducing feral horse numbers restricts the efforts to areas with a reasonable track network to enable trucks to access the traps to remove any trapped horses leaving large tracts of land with populations of feral horses largely untouched and free to continue breeding and repopulate areas where horse numbers may have been reduced by localized trapping exercises . While trapping appears to be the "soft option" and probably acceptable to those who passionately opposed shooting, the outcome for most of the trapped horses will be the same.....a bullet. "Re-homing" may sound nice and fuzzy and far more humane than shooting but the reality will be that the vast majority of trapped horses will be deemed to be unsuitable for re-homing and they will be shot in the traps and either disposed of on-site or removed then dumped. Mature wild stallions and brood mares, aged horses, those in poor condition or carrying injuries won't be considered as the likely-hood of them being "tamed" would be minimal.....the re-homing will be for the captured foals and juveniles at the best and the rest will be "humanely euthanized" on-site as it states in the Action Plan.

Parks Vic seem quite happy to use shooting as the primary means of control of sambar deer in the Bogong Unit of the ANP and over the past 2 years PV have increasingly embraced paid professional shooters to supplement the ADA/SSAA volunteer hunter program & there doesn't seem to be any fuss made of these strategies at all when applied to another invasive feral animal.....in this case the sambar deer. However history has shown that using shooting as the main method of control for feral horses has been a poisoned chalice for governments in the past which increasingly seem more concerned about preserving their own future and collective position at the trough than making the hard and sometimes unpopular decisions regarding the long-term future of the environment. I see the current Parks Victoria Strategic Action Plan on feral horse management as just another example of that ! Cheers

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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby Gadgetgeek » Thu 04 Jan, 2018 10:56 am

Its not an enviable position. Those who yell the loudest are often those who have made an emotional decision rather than a rational one. We've seen 1080 signs up here defaced with "don't kill the foxes, they are cute" which I think pretty well sums up the argument at hand. These are hard choices that have to be made, and the temptation is to look for the easy way out.
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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Thu 04 Jan, 2018 5:55 pm

Kill the foxes, they are bleeding feral pests!.Ditto for all the other introduced feral species. The Alpine N.P. :It is a national park. It for the preservation of original indigenous flora and fauna.
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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby Gadgetgeek » Thu 04 Jan, 2018 10:16 pm

I don't think there is a correlation between living in a place that has the worst kid vac rate, and the hardest time getting any kind of animal control to happen. Couldn't be. But its getting dangerously close to politics. And that would be a rude thing to bring up. So I won't.
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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby Xplora » Fri 05 Jan, 2018 4:13 am

Thanks Sambar for your comments and I feel very much on the same lines. I have prepared a written submission but have had trouble with the online survey as some questions would not take any input. Trapping will still be done in areas where they cannot get trucks to apparently and the horses will be destroyed on site. Not sure how they will get them out of the trap. I suspect it will be 4wd accessible. The plan also says there will be a review in 3 years and other methods may be considered. There is provision for shooting in some circumstances or areas but it will only be ground shooting. I know PV at the ground level would be more than happy to bring the shooters in. They are so much easier to shoot than deer.
Regarding the deer control. The pro hunters are turning out to be more cost effective than the volunteers. The volunteers cost money but PV does not pay for their time. They pay for other things though and their count has not been particularly good. The pros are way ahead in numbers and in a shorter time. Still only small numbers compared to the population size and does not account for the annual birth rate.
Regarding foxes - my other half got one two nights ago and may have winged another last night. It will be back and will follow the same pattern so we just have to sit on the deck and wait. Our nesting Plover family have finally got some chicks and we hear them going off when the fox comes near. Many people dislike 1080 and it has been banned in some countries because people have argued it is not humane. These people also spread falsehoods which then incites emotional responses in others. It does take some time to take effect but there are few symptoms before it does so the animal is not languishing for hours in painful misery. Death comes by heart failure and is quick. It has been used effectively for more than half a century but I think there is research currently to sort out an alternative.
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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby sambar358 » Fri 05 Jan, 2018 7:34 am

Xplora you make some interesting observations on the pro V volunteer hunters on the deer control around Falls Creek....I was thinking much the same myself. Far less organization with the pro shooters with a couple of exercises a year and just a few individuals to wrangle each time and if the government is happy to pick up the tab of $500 or so per animal and not plunder the local PV budget to do so then that's a win-win situation. But in defense of the volunteer hunters to a degree.....the pro-shooters are using all the latest stealthy NV, TI and IR equipment, Cat D self-loading rifles with suppressors and it seems getting access to some pretty good country that suits their methods of operating so realistically their tallies should be better than those of the volunteer hunters.

I also agree on the relative ease of ground shooting feral horses compared to sambar deer. Most of the winter I'm hunting "horse country" in the ANP within the legal sambar deer zone in the Bogong Unit and I'm encounter a few horses in the bush most days and there seems to be a building population of them well outside the areas that will be impacted by the trapping programs. Much the same sort of ground sign though....long-time extensive travel trails throughout the bush, stallion dung piles at key territorial points, mineral licks quite common and large bare areas on the sunny spurs where they camp-up. I've had a few pretty interesting encounters with stallions and mares with foals objecting to my presence in their territory with them snorting and bluff charging up on me to only a few meters.....if only big sambar stags would do that ! So I think what we'll get with the PV horse reduction exercises will be much the same as with the sambar.....short-term localized population reductions but any removed animals being quickly replaced by the wider population not impacted upon by the control exercises. Interesting times. Cheers

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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby Lophophaps » Fri 05 Jan, 2018 7:46 am

The observations and comments should be made known to PV. Ultimately is comes down to politics and the electoral impact of shooting Silver Brumbies and the horses that ran with the colt from Old Regret that got away. Brumbies are ingrained in our culture. Perhaps it's time to change the perception. Perhaps there needs to be more publicity of starving horses and the damage they are doing. Also give publicity to how the wild horse homing program invariably ends up as dog food. Shooting for deer and any horses that come within range seems to me to make a lot of sense. No extra work, minimal costs, and there could even be a bounty, proven with a picture and a GPS.
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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby sambar358 » Fri 05 Jan, 2018 8:55 am

Lop....I'm sure the local PV staff are well-aware of the feral horse situation in their patch and how best to deal with it (and that's not trapping) however they'd be having little or no input into the final outcome......it's just their responsibility to administer it....for better or for worse. I think what'll happen is that once the 3 year trapping trial is finished it'll be assessed for effectiveness......found to be not as effective as the DMP suggests then they'll either think about giving ground shooting a go in selected areas....or decide that'd be too politically sensitive so it'll just be "well, we tried !" Like the deer control.....essentially "too little too late".

What we have in the part of the Bogon Unit of the ANP where the deer control exercises are occurring and where the proposed horse trapping works will be done is a large area that has never had any recreational hunting......so the sambar have been free to populate and build-up in this area largely unmolested for 40 or so years. It's only been in the last 2-3 years that PV have finally started attempting to reduce their numbers but with a population likely numbering many 1000's of animals taking a 100 or so at per year is just a drop in the bucket. And feral horses have always been totally protected even outside NP's despite being regarded as a pest species and acknowledged as damaging the environment....all largely due to the nostalgia generated through poetry, books and films about the brumbies of the high country of course. Changing that and having the public accept using lethal methods of control will be a very difficult task I think.....as will be handling the flack should it be done despite the protestations of those who vigorously have opposed it in the past as they are now.

Going on the couple of past couple of pro-shooter sambar deer culls around Falls Creek the cost per deer killed seems to be around $500. In the 2015/2016 year the annual Victorian Game Management Authority deer harvest survey came-up with a total deer kill by recreational hunters in Victoria of 100,000 animals (mostly sambar). If the maths was done on that using the $500 per animal pro-shooter cost then that equates to $50 million dollars worth of deer removal......all done for free ! And even that 100,000 deer is just the tip of the deer iceberg.....there are likely several million of them in the state.......so that adds a bit of perspective to it I guess. I'm thinking that the costs per horse for the PV program will likely be more than that for the deer as it is far more labor-intensive with trap construction & maintenance, regular checking of traps, transportation of trapped animals out of the area, probably building a few access tracks to trap areas, digging pits with a dozer to dump dead horses that are deemed unsuitable for re-homing in etc.....a big black hole for chucking PV money into with the end-result probably being hardly significant in the medium or longer term I'd think. Cheers

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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby Lophophaps » Fri 05 Jan, 2018 10:24 am

Sambar, thanks for that. I'm just a bushwalker, keen to remove threats to the environment, with limited knowledge of the feral horse and deer situations. One other path is to look at what has worked and not worked elsewhere, notably NSW, ACT and perhaps NZ. While I'm not keen on shooting in NPs, this may be the best method, and if it is, so be it. Recreational shooters and professionals are not drunken yobbos, so if done carefully, shooting is fine with me. Not at me. That would be quite bad. Good publicity, signs, log book entries, advise the BW clubs, peak bodies, online in websites like this ... can be done, safely.
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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby sambar358 » Fri 05 Jan, 2018 11:46 am

Lops.....seasonal sambar hunting by stalking has been an approved recreational activity in most parts of the ANP since it was declared 35 years ago. Hunters and walkers tend to use different parts of the bush most times and we're most active during the colder months when other user presence tends to be low. On many occasions walkers would be sharing the bush in general terms with legal deer hunters and be totally unaware of it unless they actually met one or maybe heard a shot. I spend quite a bit of each winter hunting in the ANP and some of these spots are quite popular with walkers in the autumn and spring but over 35 years of doing this I can recall only 2 or 3 occasions where I've actually met a bush walker and each of these occasions was whilst I was on a walking track heading back to the vehicle.

Many walkers have probably see the Parks advisory signage here and there in the ANP that states either in words or using icons "No dogs, cats or firearms" or "Welcome to the Alpine National Park : No dogs cats or firearms".....in most areas of the ANP these are quite misleading and incorrect as deer-caliber firearms are certainly permitted to be used by suitably licensed deer hunters during the open deer season in the ANP which is Feb 15 - Dec 15th each year. So to a degree we are up against it a bit.....for many Parks staffers deer hunters are the "black sheep" of the Parks family and hunting rarely gets a mention in glossy Parks brochures on on their website so many people wrongly make the assumption that any hunter encountered in the ANP is in there illegally.

A few years ago I was approached by Parks Vic staff from Heyfield who were keen to put-up some advisory signage at Licola in regards to sambar deer hunting in the portion of the ANP under their management. Pretty-well to counter the misleading signage situation that I mentioned above.....so I picked-out a few good images of sambar deer that I'd taken while hunting in the bush and these were used along with some general information on the deer and the hunting in the ANP. It came-up very well actually and I'm sure it gives visitors to that portion of the Park who stop and read it a better idea of deer hunters and deer hunting within the Park. Pity that sort of initiative wasn't embraced by all regional Parks Vic offices and similar placed in all key areas within the Park.....but it's a start I guess.

I think the reluctance for Parks to embrace shooting as the major management method for feral horses in this current Action Plan would be as a result of the fall-out and bad press that a similar exercise in a NSW NP received soem years ago after a botched aerial shooting exercise where I believe several horses were shot but not killed outright and they had to be located and finished-off by ground shooters. Not a good look and certainly not acceptable and I recall the NSW Premier of the day attempting to deflect public criticism of this incident by stating something like "NSW Parks will never use aerial culling of feral horses again !".....which they didn't. I'd think Parks Vic are still well aware of that incident and the political fall-out it generated as most certainly would be the State Government.....hence their reluctance to put shooting on the table as a preferred control method in the current action plan.....yet ! Cheers

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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby peregrinator » Fri 05 Jan, 2018 2:00 pm

Xplora wrote: . . .
I have prepared a written submission but have had trouble with the online survey as some questions would not take any input . . .


I also had a problem but have since been advised by PV that the format of the survey has been altered. No issues completing it now.
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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby Lophophaps » Fri 05 Jan, 2018 3:56 pm

Sambar, if I saw a person with a gun in a NP, until I read this thread and similar information I would not be impressed. However, given that most such people are legal, it's fine with me. I cannot accept your black sheep comment. Lack of mention could be due to the political fallout. I think it's time to include hunting in four colour glossy art 90 gsm PV publications. Should there be a bit of shooting PR directed towards the BW and green fraternity? Your hunting explanation would be more useful if more widely publicised.
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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby Xplora » Sat 06 Jan, 2018 5:27 am

The cost of trapping horses is estimated at $700 each. I think the deer are running cheaper than $500 for the pros but will make that enquiry later when I next see the man in charge. The volunteers involved in the deer control are supported with thermal imaging which was purchased by PV but they do lack the Cat D semi autos and suppressors. Semi Auto is really only going to be a factor if there is more than one target. It is good to have Sambar back adding perspective to these matters. The number of deer shot each year by recreational hunters seems to grow each time the ADA has a press release. If it is in fact 100000 and there is no impact on numbers then there is a reason. One reason could be there are likely a million or more deer and population estimations have been grossly understated or it could be that the animal most responsible for population increase is not the one hunters seek unless they are looking to feed their dogs. We have a bit of venison in the freezer at the moment and the older meat from a hind is not particularly good unless minced and turned into small goods. Deer hunters can be very selective and when a hind can pop out 2 a year there is very little catching up. They also do well in poor country. One positive aspect to deer is they are having some small effect on the spread of English Broom but eating the young plants and preventing them from flowering. A lot more Broom around than the deer can keep up with though.
Apparently horse meat is quite nice as well and it is on the menu in many countries. The dogs in this country eat well. It is quite strange that we will eat our National emblems but not a horse.
Deer hunting maps are available online through the Game Management Authority. I think all of Bogong HP is out but there is some in the Historic areas around Mt. Wills. Some walkers on this forum caught up with some hunters around Mac Springs/Howitt and thought they were illegal but now understand. There are a great many illegally hunting and these guys should be reported. I know some will say it is only a few giving the sport a bad name but they need to be gone. Problems with poaching or spotlighting is out of control across the state. A bit off topic but I started the topic so it can run.
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Re: Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan

Postby sambar358 » Sat 06 Jan, 2018 7:28 am

Xplora....it'll be interesting to get a per-deer $$$ cost from the pro-shooting effort on the DHP....my $500 per deer estimate was based on the initial pro-take of 47 or so and what it cost Parks for that. If they are getting more over the same time in more recent exercises then possibly that cost per animal would be less. I was aware that PV had some thermal imaging gear to support the volunteer hunters but seeing a few with the TI then flicking on the big white spotlight is pretty far-removed from the pro-shooters with their rifle-mounted night vision gear....semi-auto high powers and suppressors so it should be expected that they'd do a lot better with that kit. Sambar are quick learners and it doesn't take them long to wake-up was a sudden burst of white light means...."time to get outa there !"

The annual GMA deer harvest survey totals are likely pretty rubbery as the survey only taken across 2-300 hunters who participate in a phone-survey several times a year and respond to a few basic questions on deer seen & taken then once these are complete GMA "do the maths" and multiply the "survey harvest" by the total number of licensed deer hunters which currently is close to 40,000. Last survey came-up with around 100,000 deer with most of that being sambar. Like all surveys they are likely to be abused by hunters inflating their take or sighting numbers, poor record keeping, guessing rather than facts etc. But of course the actual take could be higher than that too....who knows really.

Personally I think the total population numbers have been under-estimated across their entire range which these days is pretty-well everywhere from the coastal dunes east of the Prom right to our highest mountain peaks and everywhere in between and obviously building their numbers strongly all up the range into NSW close to Sydney these days. Being such an adaptive animal means that sambar thrive anywhere and as they eat anything including gum leaves and pest plants such as blackberries and broom they are never going to be short of a feed. My feelings are that there are millions of them rather than 100's of thousands and certainly if that's the case then taking 100,000 off the top each years isn't making much of a dent in them......and in reality nothing will.....they are here to stay !

The gestation period for sambar is 8 months......they will generally have a single calf and twinning is very rare but it has been reported on several occasions. So the best a hind can do is "3 a year" normally....but this will usually be one calf per year for most. We are fortunate I guess that they don't have litters......then we'd really be in strife ! I certainly agree with the increase in illegal hunting activity in many areas....unfortunately this is one of the major negatives of the popularity of deer hunting and the high deer numbers. Many slob and road hunters these days don't have to put the hard work in to get a deer and while most of these are probably short-term hunters that'll get sick of cold nights running the spotlight along roads and into private land and move-on to other things....unfortunately they'll get replaced by others of the same ilk doing the exactly same thing. Essentially there is no enforcement to prevent this....the GMA who are responsible for game enforcement are badly under-resourced and ham-strung by the need to have a Police member holding their hand while doing deer enforcement work which never happens and of the local copper can't do much as he's usually in a one-man station and has more pressing things to do than chase deer spot-lighters all night. And of course all the illegal hunters know this only too well and are essentially out-of-control most everywhere these days......and that certainly reflects poorly on the rest of us who are out there keeping a low profile & doing the right thing. Can't see this illegal hunting issue changing anytime soon either unfortunately.

So interesting times ahead I think across many fronts. Cheers

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