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IMPACTS OF BIRD HUNTING ON COMMUNITY

Parliamentary Inquiry Update

Pic Kate Bossence

 

Survey Results are in. Shooting is Out.

While taxpayers have unwittingly funded repeated surveys of hunters, there has never been a survey of the impacts of hunting on community, despite the growing numbers of people living in and visiting our regions.

To address this gap and obtain information critical to the current Parliamentary Inquiry into Native Bird Hunting in Victoria, RVOTDS ran an online survey. It received 821 responses in three weeks, blasting away the 2019 government survey of 651 active duck shooters* which asked them to guesstimate hunting benefits.

More than half of our 821 respondents said they had concerns for safety and had suffered stress or anxiety due to bird shooting nearby. Over a quarter said they had witnessed what they believed to be illegal hunter behaviour. Only 18% of those who made reports to authorities about illegal hunter activity, said they were satisfied with how their reports were managed.

Nearly forty percent of respondents said they lived within three kilometres of shooting, a range in which shotgun blasts are audible. Nearly a quarter said they lived within one kilometre, 16% within 350m and 5% within 60m!

The Firearm Safety Code (p 11) states the danger range of shotguns is 250 – 750 meters. A typical firearm range users guide states (p 11) that in winds over 50km/h – a common occurrence around waterways in the country – an extra 500m should be added to the danger range. This indicates at least a quarter of survey respondents live within dangerous proximity to shooting.

The EPA does not allow the use of gas guns (which are quieter than most shotguns) within 300 metres of a dwelling.

It's important to note that in 1996 there were 23,800 duck shooters, dropping to 23,100 in 2022 (GMA data) while in the same timeframe, Victoria’s population grew 51% and there are now over 1.5 million people living in the regions.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our survey.



*The RMCG survey of 1671 hunters in 2019 of which 651 were active duck shooters (refer p 91).


 

Parliamentary Inquiry Begins The first day of Hearings was May 26. RVOTDS believes some of the key points from that day are as follows: Scientists stated:

  • Research from 6 years ago showed duck populations suffer a negative impact from hunting, but river diversions and climate change are the largest factors. When bird numbers are low, hunting can have a major impact.

  • Data gaps were a concern (e.g. breeding, survival rates of the young). We “have no clue” as to what percentage of our duck species are shot each year.

  • Ministers possibly shortened the 2023 shooting season due to data gaps and uncertainties, and listening to other constituents.

  • A concern with the Interim Harvest Model (the one the hunters like to heed) is that it is based on the last 30 years' conditions. If there is a change in those conditions (for example climate change and poor water management - both of which are occurring in serious ways) then the model is less reliable.

  • Duck population bounce-back in good conditions is growing weaker, like a tennis ball running out of energy.

  • Conservation of wetlands could occur without hunters (as in NSW).

  • We should not be putting any more lead into the environment than we need to (still used legally by quail shooters and illegally by some duck shooters).

RMCG - the group commissioned by the government to run a survey of hunters (which the Parliamentary Budget Office usually refers to) confirmed that:

  • It was not a cost benefit analysis.

  • No evidence was sought or provided to verify what hunters said they spent.

  • A high substitutability was likely (hunters would spend on something else if bird hunting was banned).

  • If bird hunting was banned there could be a positive economic impact.

(We note Melina Bath (Nationals MP) queried if there was a link between reduced hunter expenditure and restricted hunting seasons in 2019. The answer is of course, no. Quail hunting expenditure fell 58% with no reduction in the quail shooting season.) The Australia Institute discussed:

  • The shortcomings of the RMCG survey (it was likely an over-estimate) and that costs of bird hunting were not accounted for.

  • It was a biased sample, not a random sample of hunters. Highly motivated hunters opted-in to respond. The survey was more appropriate for (pro-hunting) advocacy than policy decisions.

  • Polling of over 6000 Victorians conducted by Kantar Research in 2022 which showed two in three Victorians supported a duck shooting ban. In fact four times as many supported a ban as opposed a ban.

See The Australia Institute's Media Release Here. Dr Stiller (ecologist) said:

  • Australia is the fourth worst country for species extinction. We have a rare opportunity to remove a threat.

Parliamentary Hearings Continue.

 

Victorian Sentiment In line with the ongoing polls which show most Victorians want a ban on bird shooting, farmers, business owners, everyday Victorians, continue to speak out around the state. In case you missed them, here are a few.




 

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