Royal Spoonbill - collateral damage in unmonitored "recreational" bird shoots.
Struggling Native Birds and Rural Communities Put in Firing Line Again for the Fun of Few
Late Friday afternoon February 24, 2023, the GMA put out a media release announcing the 2023 native waterbird shoot will go ahead - albeit restricted.
The press release did not come from the Premier and Ministers who clearly prefer to be missing in action with such an unpopular announcement.
There were no details provided for our native quail -also due to be shot for fun by shooters (quail shooters don't have to sit a bird identification test and can use toxic lead, including in food producing fields). Unless restrictions are announced for quail shooting, it's set to run for three long months April to June - twenty birds a day per shooter (but who checks). Apparently the "independent" regulator sees no reason to even hold any consultation re the shooting of this poor little bird, which numbered just 101 in a first ever count last year, before floods and fires would have all but decimated the species.
RVOTDS is more than disappointed the Victorian government doesn’t have the strength to ban bird shooting like other states have done - or even to cancel a shooting season to allow birds a chance to recover and long overdue social/economic impact studies and risk assessments to be performed.
We hoped the premier would show stronger leadership and do the right thing. Less than half of one percent of the population shoot our native birds for fun, and polls continue to show most Victorians want the pastime banned and for good reason - its cruelty extends way beyond the birds.
At our meeting with the Minister recently, we provided evidence that shooters aren’t monitored, and that complaints of illegal behaviour aren't followed up - and the impacts this is having on regional communities. It’s perplexing that a government which says it cares for safety and mental health, is turning a blind eye.
Shooter "restrictions" are pointless when bird shooting is allowed to occur at so many thousands of public waterways that authorities can't even estimate their number. Around one percent of them are monitored – leaving threatened species, residents and other recreational users left to fend for themselves faced with camo-clad (often intoxicated) men with guns.
RVOTDS is calling on the government to ensure risk assessments are performed before shooting is allowed at any public waterway. And if those risk assessments don't shut down the impending shoots, that shooting is only allowed to occur at a small number of waterways located at least two kms away from residents and stock, where it can be monitored at all times like any other outdoor shooting range. A dedicated 24 x 7 complaints line should be set up, given police are otherwise engaged and GMA only look at complaints during business hours (when they choose some which they will follow up - days after the fact).
Frankly, if the government can't at least do this, then Victorians have every right to question its regard for Victorians safety.
Finally, obviously shooting should not take place anywhere near Bell's Swamp in Central Victoria where hundreds of birds have been affected with suspected avian botulism. "Shooting near here will send affected birds to other wetlands around the state spreading the disease which would be just plain stupid."
Further quotes by RVOTDS:
“What does the gun lobby have over the Victorian Premier? Why can’t he just say “no” to a minority group of bird shooters like other states have done? Victorians have a right to know."
"This Labor government's supposed commitments to mental health, to safety, and to animal welfare are all farcical, if it can't even cancel a bird shoot when evidence says it should."
"We expect the Premier and Ministers will be bringing their families to stay near the waterways during the shooting for it would be pretty gutless and naive of them to make policy decisions affecting regional Victorians, if they aren't prepared to get out of their cosy suburban lounge rooms to experience what it's like".