PUBLISHED ON: 13 March 2018
Following the massacre of protected species in the 2017 duck shooting season, the Victorian Government instructed an independent report to be undertaken into the Game Management Authority (GMA). The findings of this report were damning — revealing that that there is no effective oversight during the Victorian duck shooting season. Instead, wetlands are being destroyed and hunting laws are being broken. The report also revealed that flimsy licensing requirements allow untrained and untested hunters to handle and shoot dangerous guns, illegal shooting of waterbirds is pervasive throughout Victorian wetlands, and the Game Management Authority has a major conflict of interest being simultaneously a promoter and regulator of duck shooting... leaving our precious native wildlife and peaceful regional communities to suffer terribly as a result. Download a copy of the report here.
Pictured: 810 native waterbirds found shot and abandoned in just the first two days of the 2017 duck shooting season.
Duck shooters are required to sit a 22 question 'Waterfowl Identification Test'. You can pass this test with just 75% accuracy — and you only need to sit it once — meaning some shooters may not have taken the test for 25 years. Juniors (i.e. 12 to 17 year olds) and non-Australian residents are not required to sit the test — so adolescents and international visitors can legally fire shotguns at waterbirds without demonstrating any knowledge of which species are protected. Only weeks into the 2016 duck shooting season, 'protected' species were massacred. The same happened again in 2017, with 113 freckled ducks (one of the world's rarest species of waterbird) slaughtered by shooters. 68 of these endangered waterbirds were found dead on the opening weekend of the three month season — and these are just the ones that were found.
A shotgun fires a cluster of up to 200 pellets simultaneously which gradually spread out in a cloud-like pattern that increases in diameter the further it moves away from the gun. This means that a bird may be hit by only one or two pellets in the cloud’s outer perimeter, which is enough to injure but not instantly kill. An estimated 50,000 birds are injured every season and can suffer enormously for hours or even days before death. Not even the most skilled marksman can prevent this. After shooters were once again exposed during the 2017 season for shooting at waterbirds and failing to retrieve them, the retrieval of shot birds has been reinforced as mandatory during the 2018 season. But with an independent report revealing that there is no effective oversight of shooters, this rule is impossible to enforce — and waterbirds with shotgun injuries will inevitably be abandoned to suffer slow, agonising deaths.
Duck hunters don't have to pass a compulsory shooting accuracy test — despite the Government's own data revealing shooters are likely to cause injury rates of up to 30%. The development of an accuracy improvement course for shooters was funded by tax payers, but attracted little interest from shooters. Fewer than one hundred shooters are believed to have attended the one day course — yet more than 26,000 duck shooters are licensed for the 2018 season.
Most Australians abhor the thought of canned hunting in Africa — wild animals like lions shot in an enclosure, thus guaranteeing a 'kill' for the trophy hunter. The animals never stand a chance — and soon, neither will many of Victoria's native waterbirds.
After years of drought, few of Victoria's wetlands are filled with water. These wetlands are populated with increased concentrations of waterbirds that have flocked there in search of refuge. With so few options, these desperate animals are effectively captive populations — and in a cruel twist, some wetlands may be artificially filled with water, which attracts more birds, only for them to be then shot out of the sky.
Just one of the six species of ducks that are legally allowed to be shot was observed breeding in 2017 — and this was one nest of a Mountain Duck. That's right — ONE BIRD was observed breeding in 2017. None of the other 'game species' were observed breeding, and to make matters worse — one third of all birds killed on opening weekend last year were juveniles, which is why populations aren't bouncing back... because when waterbirds do actually breed, their young are then slaughtered by shooters.
Pictured: a juvenile heron — a protected species — illegally shot during the 2017 duck shooting season.
The Andrews government's claims that duck shooting brings in millions to Victoria are grossly misleading. A recent independent economic analysis has found no evidence that duck shooting contributes to Victoria's economy*.
*'A review of 'Estimating the economic impact of hunting in Victoria in 2013' by Dr Kristy Jones, February 2016
Governments are supposed to listen to the people. But instead of listening to the vast majority of Victorians who want duck shooting banned, they are bowing to a radical minority of shooters. This is an abuse of our wetlands, an abuse of animals and a betrayal of trust — and it's not just people in metropolitan Victoria who think so. Tired of hearing from the government that duck shooting is 'good' for their towns, regional Victorians are finding their voice. They are speaking out about the negative impact duck hunting has on their communities, homes and businesses ... that just 0.4% of the population engage in duck shooting and this number decreases every year. Polling reinforces that the vast majority of Victorians from city to country want duck shooting to end.
It’s not only the 'game' ducks that suffer — all animals seeking sanctuary on the wetlands will be traumatised and terrorised under the barrage of shotgun-fire. There may be 70 bird species (some who are breeding) in one wetland, whereas only seven can be targeted by shooters. Other animals like wombats, echidnas, frogs, and platypus may live in and around wetlands, and will be affected by this violent intrusion into their home.
Help save native ducks!
Flimsy licensing requirements allow untrained and untested hunters to handle and shoot dangerous guns. Illegal shooting of waterbirds is pervasive throughout Victorian wetlands. And the Game Management Authority has a major conflict of interest being simultaneously a promoter and regulator of duck shooting... leaving our precious native wildlife and peaceful regional communities to suffer terribly as a result.
Enough is enough. Live in Victoria? Urge your Victorian State MP to stand up to the gun lobby and end the 'recreational slaughter' of our native waterbirds!
Live outside of Victoria? Click here to speak out against duck shooting cruelty!