2020 DUCK HUNTING SEASON SEES FEW SHOOTERS.
But sadly, also fewer birds.
AS THE VICTORIAN Labor government comes under increasing pressure to stop enabling the barbaric slaughter of Australia’s beautiful water birds for some people’s idea of fun, duck defenders are more organised than ever.
They have told us at the Australian Wildlife Protection Council (AWPC) there are few birds to be seen this year on the state’s plentiful wetlands. Mercifully, there are also few shooters in 2020 — so far. (The Victorian season is supposed to end June 8 and before that regional activists worry about motels opening up and more shooters settling in with doubtful social distancing).
Why do politicians support this carnage? Traditionally, votes and money. A recent government figure claims about 48,000 licensed game hunters in Victoria. Less than half may be duck shooters. Field and Game Australia represent a percentage and published figures indicate that active shooters may be on the decrease.
A 2018 ABC report quoted former NSW Premier Bob Carr (who banned duck hunting in NSW) advising Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to stop worrying and ban the slaughter. Andrews hasn’t, despite Victorian Labor MPs voting to stop the hunt.
(Click on the READ MORE links to get the full reports, all worth a look.)
Bob Carr urges Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to ban duck hunting
On May 20, the ABC (on its website and TV) published drone footage of drug-taking by an armed hunter. That’s illegal. Mind you, the drinking before the shooting is considered an unremarkable part of Australian wildlife-killing culture. Also published was documented evidence of shooters ignoring hunting rules, eg footage of an injured duck thrown to dogs. Or not bothering with euthanasing injured birds, widely reported every year.
Victorian duck shooter’s guns seized and licence suspended after drone spies suspect behaviour
The game authority and its policing aids in Victoria have for years come under sustained criticism, but the status quo remains — almost no policing or prosecution, except for policing of demonstrators. Rescuers reported that a person was fined at Hospital Swamp near Geelong on 23 May for rescuing a sick swan. Fine around $1,000. Hospital Swamp is part of internationally protected RAMSAR wetland Lake Connewarre.
Victorian Agriculture Minister ‘very concerned’ after leaked report claims hunters are regularly breaking law
South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory also enable wild bird slaughter. There is no evidence things are better in those states.
Scientists have told authorities as recently as November 2019 that waterbird populations have fallen by up to 90 percent in the eastern states thanks to drought and mismanagement of water policies. That still did not move the executive of the states approving bird hunting.
Waterbird population has fallen as much as 90 percent in Australia’s east, shows 37-year study
The story from the front line, and have your say
Veteran water bird defender Laurie Levy gave AWPC this report (below) in May. It looks back at how a lengthy campaign built, and what duck defenders saw this year in Victoria. Will it all be too late? Not if enough citizens keep the pressure on.
Related pictures and stories from past Australian Duck Hunting seasons:
HAVE YOUR SAY
Contact, or write to your nearest Australian Conservation or Welfare Minister.