In Victoria, each year from March to June, the government declares the duck shooting season. The majority of Victorians want duck shooting stopped.
Greens spokesperson for Animal Welfare, Sue Pennicuik MP, has long been campaigning to ban duck shooting in Victoria and she attends the opening of the duck shooting season every year as an observer.
Sue said “Duck shooting is cruel and anachronistic. Many birds are shot but not retrieved by shooters. Others are wounded by shooters and if they are not rescued, will suffer a slow, painful death or survive with shot gun pellets in their bodies. Ducklings are not able to cope alone and also die as a result of the shooting of adult birds.”
Protected species illegally shot
Every season, hundreds of protected species are shot in addition to game species. Game species are native species of duck that are protected, except during the annual duck shooting seasons. Despite protected species being illegally shot every season, there have been few prosecutions.
In 2016 at just one wetland - Lake Toolondo, near Horsham, rescuers recovered 18 illegally shot threatened Freckled Ducks, 21 vulnerable Blue-winged Shovelers and 30 Eurasian coots and one Egret.
Regulations in favour of hunting in our parks
On 6 March 2013 the Greens moved to disallow new Wildlife Regulations which increase the exclusion zones in state game reserves for everyone who is not a licensed shooters from 5 to 25 metres from the shoreline and from sunset to 10 am every day of the entire duck shooting season. This will apply to all 186 state game reserves and 41 wetlands. These regulations also created a new 'provisional' game licence for children aged from 12 to 17 years without the requirement for them to sit a waterfowl identification test and a 14 day 'tourist shooting licence' for international visitors.
The Sustainable Timber and Wildlife Amendment Bill 2013 bill tripled the penalty for ‘hindering or obstructing hunting’ and increases penalties six-fold for ‘entering or remaining in a specified hunting area’ or ‘approaching a person who is hunting’. The new penalties could see people fined up to $8,600 for these offences.
The Greens opposed this bill which was introduced by the Liberal-National government and supported by Labor. Sue said: “Far from ensuring that logging is sustainable or that wildlife is protected, the bill aims to shut out the public, with increased penalties for people who enter public forests or wetlands to rescue injured wildlife or simply observe what is happening on public land. There has been no event or any valid reason given that would warrant such a massive increase in penalties.”
Analysis: No economic benefit
An analysis of the economics of duck hunting in Victoria, ‘Out for a Duck’, conducted by the Australia Institute found that:
- Claims that duck hunting – or any recreational hunting – contributes significantly to the economy of Victoria are false. They assume that without hunting any related expenditure would be lost to Victoria.
- Revenue from non-hunting tourism is far more important to Victoria’s economy.
- The non-monetary benefits of ending duck hunting and the improvement in welfare of the non-duck hunting public, are far greater than the non-monetary losses that hunters would incur from a ban.
Victorians oppose duck shooting
Public opinion, which in the majority is opposed to duck shooting, is affecting the numbers of people who engage in duck shooting. “Less than half of one per cent of Victorians are active duck hunters, while 87 per cent support a ban on duck hunting. Three per cent of respondents to our survey had participated in duck hunting and intend to do so again.” (‘Out for a Duck’ - Analysis by the Australia Institute)
The Liberal-National coalition supports duck shooting. It has created a new Game Unit within the Department of Environment and Primary Industries to support hunting in Victoria and has toughened laws against rescuers.
Labor leader, Daniel Andrews on 3AW earlier this year, stated that he has no plans to change the way the duck season works now.