Thousands of victims – each one a sensitive individual
Only a small percentage of the community participates in this outdated ‘sport’, but their actions still result in enormous suffering for wildlife. The ‘shooting season’ length and ‘bag limits’ (kill quotas) means birds can suffer in the hundreds of thousands. Usually “protected ” ducks have their protection status lifted so that shooters can kill them between March and June.
In Victoria (VIC), the government inconceivably announced a ‘shooting season’ will go ahead from April 26 to May 30 2023, with a killing quota of four birds per day, per shooter. The state’s decision-makers already have evidence of cruelty and suffering on hand, yet they are deferring their decision to ban duck shooting to yet another bureaucratic process – the formation of a Legislative Counsel select committee to ‘examine arrangements regarding recreational native bird hunting in Victoria’. Just last year alone, over 320,000 ducks were killed in VIC – not including those wounded and left to die on the wetlands.
Also out of step with community expectations, the SA Government has announced an open duck shooting season from Saturday 18 March to Sunday 25 June 2023 with a killing quota of eight ducks per day. The RSPCA SA estimates that over the season, up to 40,000 birds will be killed and up to 10,000 injured. The ‘shooting season’ in TAS is from 11 March to 12 June 2023, with a kill quota of 10 ducks per day, per shooter. Last year, an estimated 50,000 ducks were killed in the state.
Surveys of waterbird numbers in VIC and SA make these numbers even more concerning…
According to the most recent annual Aerial Survey of Waterbirds in Eastern Australia (which includes VIC), populations of ‘game’ species of ducks are still dire despite the record-setting rainfall. Devastatingly, 6 of 8 duck species the government usually allows to be killed for recreation were found to be in serious long-term decline. Two previous “game” species are now on Victoria’s threatened species list (Hardhead and Blue-winged Shoveler).
Duck populations in SA are also struggling – the last thing they need is to be shot for ‘fun’. The latest Department of Environment and Water Game Duck Abundance report shows surveyed ‘game’ duck numbers at less than 20% of their annual average of almost two decades.
Governments should not be waiting for more species to be pushed to the brink as others have – they should be protecting Australian wildlife.