Any day now the Andrews government will announce what will or won't be, in terms of another native waterbird shooting season in 2019, at thousands of public waterways around Victoria often in close proximity to residents.
For the sake of our struggling native waterbirds and the communities they (used to) frequent, let's hope our “new” Labor Government is indeed progressive, true to its word on protecting our unique wildlife and governing for all Victorians – majority of whom oppose this activity (Morgan Poll), in calling a cease-fire.
Latest scientific data - which the new CEO of Game Management Authority refers to as "the most significant", shows our native waterbirds have fallen even further from last year's desperately low numbers, remaining well below average with "game bird" numbers low by order of magnitude. This year, habitat and breeding indices are also desperately low. And if you think it couldn't get any worse, throw record dry conditions and heat spells into the mix – heat spells set to continue through January to March according to Bureau of Meteorology.
Our native waterbirds, many unique to our country, need our urgent protection.
Birds turn out to be doubly as affected as mammals from climate change, an international team of scientists found, after checking 481 species in 987 populations around the world (published by Zoological Society of London in the journal Global Change Biology).
Nearly 40% of the world's birds are in decline, largely due to human activity including hunting (State of The World's Birds 2018).
It’s not just the 400,000 – 500,000 birds shot each year in Victoria (and this number is without the minimum 1 in 4 wounded, flying away to die a slow painful death elsewhere) that are impacted.
There is a ripple effect through the species as many native waterbirds are monogamous, forming life-long pairs. When one is shot, it’s likely not only the offspring won’t survive but the remaining partner may never recover or re-partner.
Independent experts have submitted compelling scientific reasons for years on why the native waterbird shooting seasons should not go ahead, but every year they go ahead anyway.
"Regulations" or season modifications, unable to be monitored, are mute and an unacceptable risk to our birdlife and the public.
Meanwhile, our native waterbirds are being decimated, along with our rural communities’ chances of prospering from the benefits of nature-based tourism.
It’s time for strong progressive leadership, ditching duck shooting for the more popular, humane, sustainable and lucrative nature-based tourism.
It’s time to get it done.
Picture Australian Wood- ducks, unique to Australia, form life-long pairs, courtesy Eleanor Dilley