Native Bird Shoot Approved at Too Many Waterways for Authorities to Quantify
Calls for Urgent Risk Assessments, Bird Shooters to be Newly Tested for Accuracy, Restricted to Monitored Areas, Away from Family Homes.
Will GMA Sneak Another Quail Season Through?
Despite record low waterbird indices, shocking recent knowledge test results of shooters and rising opposition from regional communities, another Victorian recreational bird shoot has been announced for 2021.
This highlights a serious problem in our government decision processes and so-called democracy.
Professional polls continue to show majority of Victorians – particularly regional- want duck shooting banned. They’re being ignored same as RSPCA, scientists, independent economists, even the Labor party itself which voted in November 2019 for a review.
While restrictions of two birds per day per shooter and a reduction in season to three weeks may seem like a step in the right direction, who monitors what is shot and how about policy makers bring their families to live with it for three days let alone three weeks?
No social/economic impact studies have been done on anyone other than a small number of shooters. Residents’ and council’s requests for exclusion zones have been dismissed.
Little if any data on the impacts on protected species has been collated since GMA began. Previous governments reported thousands of protected and threatened species found dead during duck seasons - 972 in a single year - just at a few waterways which were monitored.
GMA’s so called restrictions are moot when shooting is allowed at so many waterways even the army couldn’t monitor them.
Freedom of Information results last year show no risk assessments have ever been done regarding proximity of homes to shooting and that neither GMA nor DELWP could cite the whereabouts or estimate the number of, thousands of public lakes, streams, rivers, creeks and waterways where duck shooting is allowed across Victoria.
A 2013 “wetlands inventory” reported around 35,000 Victorian wetlands. A relatively small number are not open to shooting.
Last year “coked up shooters” had guns seized. Before that, “camper’s terrifying night” was reported and before that “over 30 hunters offences” in one weekend including shooting while intoxicated and without a valid firearm license. These are just a few incidents at a small number of public waterways which happened to be monitored.
Most would agree to allow duck shooting to continue under the circumstances is hardly safe or sustainable, more like negligence.
GMA have again failed to comment on changes to a quail shooting season. Even South Australia banned quail shooting the last two years. In Victoria, GMA have allowed full quail seasons despite little if any data surrounding their numbers and the birds’ close resemblance to the critically endangered Plains Wanderer of which there are only 250- 1000 left in the wild.
If this government cares at all about public safety, regional communities or biodiversity, it must cease duck and quail shooting until proper due diligence is done.
Picture of Plains Wanderer chick from DELWP's "Tracking the Plains Wanderer". Picture of shot protected species from Kim Wormald.
At the very least in the interim, we call on Minister Mary-Anne Thomas to immediately restrict the shooting to areas which are signposted, monitored, not within earshot of family homes and to bird shooters who have passed a recent accuracy test - within the last twelve months.
GMA say duck shooters have to pass a waterfowl identification test (WIT) but they only have to pass it once. Most of today’s bird shooters would have done it years ago, with serious knowledge gaps recently published.
Only 37% answered correctly about wounding.
Only 13% knew what to do with a downed bird.
Only 20% of duck and quail shooters answered a three part question on identification of game species correctly and
Only 42% answered correctly regarding safety.
In continuing to allow this unpopular destructive activity, appalling disregard is being shown by the Andrews government for the public, our precious wildlife and rural communities. The letter to Ministers of October 9 last year from 43 business, union, environment and wildlife organisations representing hundreds of thousands of Victorians didn’t even receive a reply.
Again we invite Mr. Andrews to bring his family to stay with one of ours during bird shooting . It's time he saw the impact on families, animals and livelihoods.
More people live by the waterways now than they did in the 50’s and more people want to enjoy Victoria's public wetlands for pastimes which don't involve shooting. They have a right to peace and safety.
Here’s some of what rural folk had to say. https://vimeo.com/307167367