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"The true philosopher of the gun is the wildfowler, for he must have the sensitive eye of an artist, a love of solitude and onely places. He measures beauty by the flash of a bird's wing, by the glint of dawn on sliding waters, by the march of slow clouds. He is the son of solitude, the lonely one."
J. Wentworth Day, Wild Wings
The Wildfowlers' Association of Great Britain and Ireland, known as WAGBI, was founded in 1908 by Stanley Duncan. He was to become the Associations first Honorary Secretary and the famous wildfowler and sporting author Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey was electred President. The aims of the Association were threefold;
i) To help the professional wildfowlers who were at the time making a meagre living on the coast.
ii) Increased drainage and subsequent development of excellent wildfowl habitat was causing alarm.
iii) He understood that as time went by it would be necessary to defend the sport of wildfowling against factors that were moving contrary to its interests, namely the growing enthusiasm of extremists bent on the protection of wild birds.
The Association, with only the support of a small committee, built up a system where there would be in every wildfowling district, officials capable of giving advice and able to represent and support wildfowling and associated interests whenever they became threatened.
In 1950 WAGBI had five affiliated organisations, namely Southport and District Wildfowlers' Association (1887), Morecombe Bay Wildfowlers' Association (1929), Blakeney and District Wildfowlers' Association (1927), Frodsham and District Wildfowlers' Club (1938) and the Tay Valley Wildfowlers' Association (1949)
In 1981 the WAGBI changed its name to the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (B.A.S.C.). With B.A.S.C. came the formation of local affiliated organisations, now covering all forms of sporting shooting and not merely wildfowling.
The B.A.S.C. journal online www.voiceofshooting.com
Organisation of B.A.S.C. progammes
The B.A.S.C. work has been divided into programmes run by B.A.S.C. Headquarters at Marford Mill and involve a substantial element of volunteer support. These programmes make up a major part of the total Headquarters function. They may involve special committees of Council in an advisory capacity.
Only a very small number of activities are oriented towards a particular type of shooting. Each programme is geared to work flexibly and without duplication in all branches of shooting where it is applicable. Some of the main programmes for wildfowling can be outlined as follows:
Political: The Association makes political representations on wildfowling, at all levels, at Westminster, Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg. The wide membership support creates more political contacts.
Conservation and land management: This department assists clubs in the aquisition and management of wildfowling rights through the lease and purchase of land. It also encourages clubs to take all forms of wildlife into account when managing their land, primarily through management plans.
Research: The B.A.S.C. collects, evaluates and disseminates information on wildfowling e.g. national wildfowl bags. More specifically however, it carries out research into wildfowling problems e.g. lead poisoning, shooting disturbance of wildfowl and the effects of severe weather on wildfowl. It organises meetings on topics of interest to wildfowlers e.g. wigeon movements, and assists clubs in setting up local studies on their own marshes, aimed at improving their management.
Education and training: This department runs a nationwide network of Proficiency Award schemes each of which provides special courses on coastal duck and goose shooting, quarry identification and the law. It also assists clubs to set up their own education and training schemes for new and junior members, and runs specialist wildfowling courses around the country.
International affairs: The B.A.S.C. organises a wildfowling lobby (through FACE) to the European Parliament and the Council of Europe etc. It also advises the European Commission and other official institutions on wildfowling matters in Britain.
Firearms: The Association safeguards the wildfowlers freedom to aquire, own and use the weapon of his choice for the pursuit of his sport.
Press and public relations: The B.A.S.C. maintains links with the press, radio and TV for the dissemination of information on wildfowling.
The above list sets out some of the Association's general work programmes and shows what the Association does for the wildfowlers as a special group within the organisation. It will readily be seen that the programmes and services support each other and, as such, make up a comprehensive strategy in their own right for the protection, purification and perpetuation of the sport.
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