Author Archives: Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting

EPA Vic failed to act on public LEAD POISONING RISKS across Victoria, Minister’s Office evaded question


DOCUMENTS RECENTLY OBTAINED through FOI (Freedom of Information), show lead levels in ducks “well above” food safety guidelines, at four of 23 public (duck shooting) waterways around Victoria: Serpentines Creek (Western Vic), Richardson’s Lagoon (North), Heart Morass and Macleod Morass (Gippsland).

The extent of the contaminated ducks across the state is likely to be far greater because only four of eight ‘game’ duck species were tested, and only at a small number of waterways. There are thousands of public lakes, streams, creeks, rivers, reservoirs and wetlands around Victoria where duck shooting is allowed. And ducks fly.

ABOVE: Freckled Duck, courtesy Eleanor Dilley.

Lead ammunition was banned in duck shooting but is still illegally used as is reported most years. It is also used legally in native Stubble Quail shooting, including at Macleod Morass and Heart Morass, (which is understood to be protected under a Trust for Nature Covenant). Each shotgun lead cartridge holds hundreds of lead pellets. Few strike the target. The rest fall into the sediments where waterbirds pick them up, mistaking them for grit (which they use to grind their food), posing the risk of poisoning themselves, and those who eat them. This includes people and secondary predators like protected eagles. Lead fragments can remain in ducks which are hit but not killed by a shotgun blast.

Medics have long warned that lead is highly toxic to people and animals, even in tiny traces. In 2018, the CSIRO published a scathing report on Australia’s apathy towards lead ammunition.

The documents obtained by FOI show EPA grappling with what to do. One assessment says “data was too limited to make any conclusions” with another showing an EPA manager contradicting that; “Isn’t it clear?” Tests were repeated and results described as “not an error”.

Lead warnings have never been issued — not even precautionary advice since testing first identified the issue in 2018. The fact lead was found in ducks at shooting waterways across the state, has been kept from the public.

Only a few inconsistent warnings have been issued about consuming ducks at a handful of wetlands in Gippsland due to PFAS which is a different substance.

In response to a Question on Notice June 2021 (#3821), which asked directly about lead in ducks at Heart Morass and MacLeod Morass, the Minister for Agriculture (now Minister for Health) said her department was “not aware of any publicly available studies of lead levels in ducks at Heart Morass or Macleod Morass”.

Ministers have allowed four recreational duck (and quail) shooting seasons to take place since the lead issue was identified.

The Documents were obtained by not-for-profit group Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting inc.

Recreational duck shooting is banned in QLD, ACT, NSW and WA. In Victoria, less than half of one percent of the population shoot ducks, while ongoing professional polls show most Victorians want it banned here too, with the strongest support for a ban coming from regional areas (UComms 2021).

Sue Williams — Project Manager, Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting inc — had this to say:

The danger to our wildlife and human populations of toxic lead ammunition, is just another reason why Victoria needs to ban the recreational shooting of ducks and quail as other states have done.

“The fact that ducks were found to have toxic lead levels outside food safety guidelines in about 20% of a small number of wetlands surveyed, and that ducks fly, suggests this danger is frighteningly widespread.

“It is simply unfathomable that the government has not issued any public warnings about the lead levels found in ducks across our state. Four recreational duck and quail shooting seasons have been allowed to proceed since the lead levels were first identified.

“We are disappointed it took a not-for-profit group to bring awareness of these matters to Victorians. Government agencies are paid millions to keep Victorians and our protected wildlife safe. We seem to be doing their job here.

“It’s disappointing EPA are saying more ducks must be killed in yet another shooting season to enable more testing, when studies performed overseas, and now here, are unambiguous. Any further shooting — particularly with lead ammunition — risks the health of people and protected wildlife. When will the Victorian government just tell bird shooters “no”?

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Who will represent you?


Know your choices.

Whether it’s the environment or the economy, the fragile state of our ecosystems or public health and safety, we all have our own concerns and are clear about what is critically important to ourselves and our families.

But it’s not always so easy to be clear about who in Parliament will best support us, or to navigate the voting system to ensure our vote goes where we want it to.

Knowing our choices.

Together with two of our Alliance partners, Australian Wildlife Protection Council and Australian Wildlife Society, RVOTDS sought feedback on party commitments pertaining to wildlife protection, habitat preservation and fire management (and therefore, regional Australia’s health and prosperity) from a number of political parties.

Based on responses received, previous track records and published policies, a summary table of their position is here: Policies and Progress PDF

RVOTDS notes the commitments by Reason Party, Animal Justice Party, The Greens, and Sustainable Australia Party, to protecting our precious native wildlife and natural environments.

We hold cautious optimism for some others also, including TNL (formerly “The New Liberals”) who are calling for a strong ICAC, climate action and ending recreational killing of native wildlife.

Here is a link to help identify who is in the running to represent you in each of the two houses: lower (House of Representatives) and lower down the link, upper (Senate).

Click here to see who you can vote for in YOUR electorate.

Making sure our vote goes where we want it to

Your preferences could be very important.

To control where your vote ends up, consider numbering as many of your preferences as you can (6 may not be enough), so it’s worth knowing a bit about the choices in advance.give your vote more teethCartoon provided by one of our valued supporters.

Some links related to the questions submitted to political parties:

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Victoria’s ‘progressive’ Labor government again greenlights bird cruelty, regional loss of tourism

Wood-duck_courtesy of Eleanor Dilley_RVOTDS

DESPITE INCREASING NUMBERS of Victorians demanding an end to it, another recreational native bird shoot has been approved in Victoria, causing outrage around the state.

ABOVE: Wood Duck, photo courtesy Eleanor Dilley.

Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting inc (RVOTDS) say the Saturday announcement seems a “pretty gutless” attempt to keep the unpopular announcement under the radar.

Announced Saturday February 26, the bird shoot will start March 16 and run for “three long months”, 25% of the year, at “so many thousands of public lakes, streams, rivers, wetlands, waterways and reservoirs that no government authority has been able to estimate whether they number closer to 8,000 or 15,000, let alone signpost or monitor them”. Many shooting areas are near family homes, and most are near other recreational users.

“The Andrews government has again shown it is more concerned with a minority group of bird shooters, than regional residents and businesses” a spokesperson for RVOTDS said.

No social / economic impact studies have ever been done on anyone other than a small group of shooters. No cost-benefit analysis has been done to account for the cost to Victorians of compliance monitoring, or lost tourism, of stock being sent through fences or the inability to work from home because of shooting. Most local businesses will tell you — duck shooting does not bring the bucks. The government’s — or should we say shooters’ — propaganda is just that — propaganda to try and justify an unpopular destructive activity.”

“We challenge Mr. Andrews to bring his family to stay by a waterway in regional Victoria between March 16 and June 13. It’s time he experienced the carnage he condones.”

Ongoing polls* show most Victorians — particularly regional — want duck shooting banned. Less than half of one percent of the population take part in this pastime which other states banned long ago due to cruelty. 

At least one-in-four of the tens of thousands of birds shot each season are wounded only, flapping off to die slow painful deaths elsewhere. In fact, Game Management Authority put it at one-in-three — not that they’re doing much about it. If this cruelty happened in an abattoir it would be shut down”.

In an election year, questions hang in the community about whether the major parties are listening to constituents or favoring the whims of their financial donors.

“When our rural communities are crying out for opportunities to benefit from the booming trend of nature-based tourism which is hampered by shooting, stuck in the fifties is where this government is leaving us. Victorians deserve better.”


*Recent polls include UComms January 2021 and RSPCA’s poll.

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Country people: shut down Victoria’s bird shoot


Calls for immediate shut down of bird shoot due to “uncontrollable” lawlessness and health risks

NOT EVEN A week since Victoria’s recreational bird shoot started and not even covid restrictions have prevented lawlessness and cruelty.

Shocking pictures on social media show the proximity of men in army fatigues with guns near built-up areas.

Reports have been made to the regulator about illegal shooting — well before allowable time — with the regulator’s response 24 hours later requesting more information which would help them identify the perpetrator.

IMAGE: Source Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting Inc

Regional Victorian Opposed to Duck Shooting Inc (RVOTDS) are not surprised. “This happens every shooting season. Not only are regional families having to live with this happening on their doorsteps, but they also have to put themselves in harm’s way to collect evidence for the regulator to do its job as well.

Elsewhere, a complaint was made that shooters were flouting covid restrictions with the alarming outcome the police did not know the covid rules and nothing was done.

And elsewhere, appalling cruelty appears to have been captured on video of a shooter trying to hide from cameras as he fed pieces of a live bird to his dog.

“It is abundantly clear this pastime is unable to be controlled and poses a serious risk to our native birdlife and rural communities” said Kerrie Allen spokesperson for RVOTDS.

“Why shooting native birds was ever allowed to proceed during covid is beyond us. Now we have lawless guys with guns around the state and bands of rescuers having to follow them. It’s unnecessary and dangerous when an ugly variant of fast spreading virus is breathing down our necks.”

“Victoria is a basket case right now and is it any wonder? Time for accountability. That starts with saying ‘no’ — like other states have — to a group of folks who like to shoot birds for fun.”

RVOTDS has submitted a lengthy complaint to the regulator about it’s “cumulative failings over the years’ and they say if that is not responded to quickly and appropriately they will take it “far further”. In the interim they are calling on James Merlino acting Premier to shut down the shooting immediately.

“The regulator is still unable to provide accurate maps of where shooting is / is not allowed. It has also failed to list wetland closures on its website. How are shooters supposed to know where they can shoot let alone how are the public meant to know where to avoid?

“Regional families have been totally forsaken on this issue year after year. We believe compensation is due given all the long days, weeks and months we’ve had to put up with this madness in our backyards every year with no consideration by policy makers.”

— Kerrie Allen

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