Shot while struggling to thrive
With their survival hanging in the balance, the Victorian Government approved a modified ‘shooting season’ in 2023.
Sadly, new research has revealed that ducks are among the native species struggling to thrive. According to the most recent annual Aerial Survey of Waterbirds in Eastern Australia, populations of ‘game’ species of ducks are still dire, despite the record setting rainfall.
Devastatingly, 6 of 8 ducks who the Government allows to be killed for recreation have been found to be in serious long-term decline. Two species of ‘game’ ducks, Pink-eared and Hardheads, were resilient in earlier times but have suffered population collapse during the last decade due to ongoing shooting seasons. Two further “game” species are now on Victoria’s threatened species list (Hardhead and Blue-winged Shoveler). The Victorian Government cannot afford to wait for more species to be pushed to the brink as others have.
2022 saw an ‘open season’ of 90 days that killed over 320 000 ducks, not including the estimated 1 in 4 wounded and left to die on the wetlands. During the first week of the 2023 shooting season alone, 73 native waterbirds who were shot and left to die were assessed by Wildlife Victoria’s vet triage team – sadly, all had to be euthanised due to the severity of their gunshot wounds, including eight threatened species illegally shot.