Questionable duck conservation from Geoff Russell

By Matthew Godson
Friday, 6th May 2011

All shotgun hunters need to remember the name Geoff Russell. He is the animal liberationist responsible for the ‘shotgun wounding computer model’ relied upon by animal rights activists to promote the banning of legitimate game bird hunting. Unfortunately, many others have been fooled into believing it is a scientifically sound model. The fact is, it’s not and it’s a real stinker.

One thing that is certain is that Russell’s waterfowl wounding model cannot even be physically supported by other animal activists. When was the last time the media reported that duck rescuers had ‘rescued’ thousands, hundreds or even dozens of wounded ducks on an opening morning? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I didn’t see or hear about it in the media this year. According to Russell’s modelling, there should have been thousands of battered and broken ducks out there for all to see at Lake Buloke near Donald in Victoria this year.

By reports, less than a half a dozen wounded ducks were found and displayed to the media by the 100 or more ‘duck rescuers’ who searched the area for hours. This was after about 2000 hunters helped themselves to an average bag of four ducks each. Based on Russell’s predicted 50 per cent wounding rate, there should be another 3995 wounded ducks awaiting rescuing!

Geoff Russell is just one of many radical animal rights activists who seem to honestly believe that the human race should be vegan. Russell built and engineered this model to provide support to his views and he promotes it as being scientifically robust.

The big problem here is that it has never been subjected to (or passed) peer review in credible scientific journals in the field of wildlife science. Unfortunately, no matter how he packages it up, Russell’s model simply has not received any formally recognised scientific credibility. Holding qualifications in mathematics and philosophy, Russell writes computer software for a profession, specialising in transport scheduling and timetabling, which has nothing to do with wildlife science!

When I discuss what creates scientific credibility with my associates, it is obvious that a person must hold more than just relevant scientific qualifications. There is the expectation that a person must have work published in relevant peer-reviewed scientific journals. In addition to this, the person’s work should have a high citation index, which directly indicates how serious the relevant scientific community rates the science in their work and the person’s credibility.

If you were to decide to waste your time too and search scientific literature search engines for papers by Geoff Russell or including his model, all you will find is one article discussing his model in a now-defunct computer software newsletter - hardly a rousing endorsement of the scientific credibility!

Interestingly, Russell seems happy to dismiss other people’s views that don’t reflect his, even if they have earned a level of scientific creditability that his model lacks. For example, at the recent Coalition Against Duck and Quail Hunting public meeting in Adelaide, he dismissed the critique of his model by Dr Webb (one of Australia’s leading internationally recognised wildlife scientists) by calling him ‘just a crocodile farmer’.

Next time you hear someone trying to justify banning shotgun hunting using Geoff Russell’s computer modelling, politely let them know that it’s not scientifically credited and doesn’t accurately reflect what happens in the field.