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Horrific and unnecessary
environmental damage from native bird hunting.

1. Plastics

This extract from a Game Management Authority Board Paper, obtained by the public through Freedom of Information, says 2.2 million plastic shotgun components are put into the Victorian environment by duck shooters every year. This excludes additional plastic shotgun components entering the environment by quail shooters. Plastics can take hundreds of years to break down, mistaken as food by wildlife which suffer cruel deaths as a result, and ultimately becoming microplastics which enter our food chain.

Document obtained through Freedom of Information re plastic pollution from shotguns

There are high densities of seabirds in the Tasman Sea., including endangered and threatened species. Plastics are fed to baby birds by their parents who can't distinguish between plastics and fish. The outcome is starvation and death. Studies of some Australian shearwater colonies found nine out of every 10 fledglings had eaten considerable quantities of plastic.

Picture of bird with plastic in stomach
Freedom of Information Document

2. Lead

Whilst lead ammunition is now banned for duck shooting in Victoria, it is still used illegally as is reported most years. Inexplicably, it is also used legally in other forms of shooting, such as "recreational" shooting of native quail. 

Each ammunition cartridge holds 30-45g of lead. Multiply 30g by the average number of 175,000 shot quail each year in Victoria (GMA harvest estimates) and one gets a staggering 5 tonnes of lead potentially pumped into Victorian (including food-producing) environments each season - without even adding in the lead deposited by missed shots. Lead is highly toxic to people and animals, even in tiny traces.

 

A 2018 CSIRO study was scathing of Australia’s failure to take seriously the risks to humans, animals and the environment from lead ammunition. 

Lead poisoning can lead to 'horrifically slow death' for birds

As reported by the ABC, lethal amounts of lead have been found in protected species in Victoria, according to Jordan Hampton from the University of Melbourne's Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences.

"Concerningly, the birds of prey with by far the highest levels of lead exposure detected in Australia, have been wedge-tailed eagles from Victoria," he said. 

A recent study by EPA found 20% of the Victorian wetlands it tested had ducks with lead levels unsafe for human consumption.

See one of our newsletters on the topic here.

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