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Vulnerable ecosystems and rural communities hang in the balance



Australian Shelducks picture Eleanor Dilley



Regulator Preparing Recommendation for 2021 Victorian Recreational Native Bird Shoot

Submissions to Game Management Authority (GMA) regarding a Victorian 2021 native duck shooting season closed last Wednesday 6th January with the new Agriculture Minister now set to review GMA's recommendation before announcing her decision on the matter.


RVOTDS’ submission - which was also sent directly to the Minister- was one of many calling for the shooting season to be cancelled based on evidence, facts and science.


A copy of our submission can be viewed here.


The GMA Act calls for the regulator to close seasons when environmental conditions demand and to research social/economic impacts of duck shooting.


But in their six years of operation, taxpayer funded GMA has not once recommended a season close despite the worst environmental conditions ever recorded, significant long-term decline of all waterbird indices and an almost total lack of understanding of the impact of duck shooting on bird populations including protected and threatened species. Before GMA’s time, duck shooting seasons were cancelled in 2003, 2007 and 2008 for less dire circumstances.


According to scientists, our waterbirds have declined 90% since the 1980's and climate change will continue to stress them further.


Critical waterbird indices such as abundance and breeding are now significantly worse than last year despite rain. "Game bird" numbers have plunged a further 23% from their pitifully low numbers of the previous year. Numbers of birds in Victoria have plummeted by a whopping circa 50% in just twelve months based on GMA graphs.


And still no social/economic impact studies have been carried out regarding the effects of duck shooting on anyone other than shooters. In fact residents’ complaints and requests for exclusion zones have been ignored.


Most would agree, it's long past time for a cease-fire - if sustainability is at all a concern.


But there is lack of trust in the so-called independent regulator, whose chair and other key staff only recently relinquished their own duck shooting licenses. Can they be independent when they themselves shoot our wildlife for fun and their jobs at GMA depend on hunting?


At its 2019 November state conference, the Victorian Labor Party voted almost unanimously to review their policy on duck shooting, a pastime condemned for its cruelty and long banned in WA, QLD, ACT and NSW.


Increasing the pressure on the government for a ban in Victoria, is the outcome of two recent government (taxpayer funded) projects:


1. A survey of shooters showing duck shooters expenditure decreased 46% and quail shooters expenditure decreased 58% from 2013-19.

2. GMA’s shooter accuracy tests which showed only 13% of duck shooters knew what to do with a downed bird and only 20% of duck and quail shooters could correctly identify game species.


If the Minister allows another shooting season to take place it will be in the public interest to know why. Why risk assessments or any real cost-benefit analysis have not been carried out and why scientists, animal welfare organizations, the majority of constituents let alone the Labor Party itself are not being listened to.


As per articles by Hayley Elg in newspapers across the country this week, the effects to communities and our ecosystems of this unpopular pastime are too significant to be ignored any longer.