A duck launching from water

Victorian duck shooting season is over for another year – hopefully forever.

Tuesday 30th May marked an end to Victoria's annual 'recreational' duck shooting season. Could it have been the last?

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated January 31, 2024

UPDATE: Devastatingly, despite the recommendation of its own inquiry that duck shooting end, the Victorian Labor Government announced in January 2024 that it will continue to allow the slaughter of native waterbirds. Given the volume of submissions from caring people who want to see wildlife protected, and the Committee’s clear findings regarding the suffering of waterbirds, it is clear that this decision was not one made based on evidence or what the majority of Victorians wanted. You can read more and take action for ducks in Victoria here.

The Victorian duck shooting season is over for another year — and yet again, appalling cruelty to vulnerable wildlife has been exposed.

Even though the duration of the season was shortened to five weeks (a standard season is twelve), countless native waterbirds were killed or left wounded to die on Victoria’s wetlands — all because a tiny minority of people find pleasure in the act of harming wildlife, and their choice to do so is supported by the Victorian labor government. Dedicated rescuers and investigators once again braved the wetlands to capture evidence, some of which was submitted as part of Animals Australia’s comprehensive submission to both the Victorian and the South Australian Government Inquiries.

Here is just some of what was documented:

  • Ducks illegally shot, including threatened species and non ‘game’ species
  • Shooters failing to retrieve ducks they had wounded, instead leaving them on the water to die from their injuries
  • Shooters failing to kill birds who they had wounded, instead leaving them to die from their injuries in canoes, hanging from cartridge belts, or allowing them to drown
  • Shooters continually seen using an ineffective and cruel technique to try to kill ducks, called ‘windmilling’ (swinging them around by their heads)
  • Young children of shooters used to coax ducks to the shoreline with bread
  • Extensive littering across wetlands, including plastic shotgun wads and toilet paper

The Game Management Authority has also confirmed that breaches to hunting laws were detected throughout the season, including ‘failure to comply with the season arrangements’, ‘hunting without a valid game licence’, ‘possession of toxic shot’, ‘exceeding the daily bag limit’ (this is the number of ducks that shooters are allowed to kill each day) and ‘failure to immediately dispatch (this means kill) a retrieved duck’.

During the first week of the shooting season alone, Wildlife Victoria’s vet triage team received and assessed a staggering 73 native waterbirds who were shot and left to die on the water, including eight threatened species illegally shot. Sadly, all of these birds were euthanised on welfare grounds, as their injuries were too severe — their fragile bones shattered from shot gun pellets.

In a shocking case that was reported by distressed local business owners, ducks were found shot and dumped in an industrial area.

Investigators once again captured appalling shooter behaviour during Victoria's 2023 native duck hunting season

Wetlands closed to shooters

On a positive note, during the heavily shortened season 16 wetlands were closed to shooting to protect threatened species of birds and other animals living there, including some of the biggest, and most popular, wetlands for shooters. On some occasions, urgent closures needed to be enforced with very little notice — meaning that shooters camping in the area in preparation to wake up and kill wildlife had to be told to pack up and move on, as entire lakes and wetlands were once again reinstated as sanctuaries.

Response to Parliamentary Inquiry into duck shooting breaks records

The Victorian Government is currently conducting an Inquiry into the future of recreational shooting of ducks and quail. Incredibly, more than 9000 submissions were made as part of this Inquiry — several thousands of these were Animals Australia supporters.

Hundreds of our supporters living in regional areas also spoke up as part of a state-wide survey about the negative human impacts of duck shooting. The powerful results garnered media attention and also formed part of the Inquiry.

The sheer volume of submissions to this Inquiry has never before seen by the Parliament of Victoria.

The massive response to this inquiry is a clear indication of the high level of community interest in this matter.”
MP Ryan Batchelor
Commitee Chair

This image contains content which some may find confronting

A graph showing the list of Victorian Parliamentary Inquiries with most submissions, highlighting the fact that the inquiry into duck and quail submissions is by far number one with in excess of 9,000 submissions. Followed by Ride sourcing services from 2017 with 2.4 thousand, fire services bill from 2017 with almost two thousand, and then use of cannabis, unconventional gas and end of life choices all with under 1,500 submissions.
The number of public submissions to duck shooting inquiry is thousands more than the previous highest.
Image credit: Parliament of Victoria

So, what happens now?

The Parliamentary committee is made up of 9 Members of the Legislative Council who have been selected to deliberate a broad range of elements (terms of reference) relating to recreational shooting. Now that the public submissions period has ended, this committee is holding public hearings as part of this Inquiry and will call upon key stakeholders from not just the animal protection sector, but also from shooting associations and regional communities, to give evidence.

We expect Animals Australia will be called upon as part of this process and we will participate on behalf of every waterbird at risk of being killed in future, and of course — on behalf of the many thousands of our supporters as well as the broader public who share our view that wildlife should be protected, not killed for ‘fun’.

Once the public hearings period has completed,  the committee will present a report to Parliament at the end of August, and hopefully shortly after that we will find out if native waterbirds in Victoria will finally be permanently protected from this bloodsport.

This image contains content which some may find confronting

Duck flying above water
Native waterbirds can once again fly free in Victoria, safe from shooters — hopefully forever.

Thank you for speaking up for native waterbirds

If you’re one of the many thousands of people who have made a submission, written to your MP, contacted the Victorian Premier, or volunteered your time and knowledge to help Victoria’s native ducks, thank you. This has been an ongoing effort over many decades, and involving incredible dedication and collaboration with many advocates and organisations (big shout out to the Coalition Against Duck Shooting and Wildlife Victoria), not just this year, but every year that native waterbirds have needed a voice.

When we finally celebrate and end to duck shooting, it will be thanks to you.