Considerations for 2020 native waterbird shooting season.
As unprecedented hot dry spells scorch our country, the latest scientific survey data regarding impacts to our native waterbirds is damning.
Wetland area (directly linked to waterbird abundance) is the lowest since surveys began 37 years ago and there is little if any breeding amongst "game species".
Most "game species" abundances are well below long term averages, some by order of magnitude.
Waterbird numbers in Victorian transects have declined by some 40% since 2018.
Minimal ability for large scale movement of birds between north and south (due to lack of water habitat) means birds are effectively marooned, "sitting ducks" for shooters if any kind of season goes ahead.
Previous Victorian Labor governments have closed duck shooting seasons in 2003, 2007 and 2008 for less dire environmental conditions.
Sadly the shooters lobby still want their bird shooting season, despite incomparably appalling environmental conditions and no regard for the rural families they will descend upon from dawn for months. Notwithstanding the deterrence to much needed tourism our small rural towns depend upon.
Latest figures show the number of licensed duck shooters has fallen to just 0.38 of one percent of the population, with around half this tiny number inactive.
Stakeholder submissions to Game Management Authority (GMA) re a 2020 season closed last Friday.
GMA - the taxpayer funded regulator widely criticised for being "too close to shooters" (1) typically provides its recommendation to Ministers inside a week of receiving submissions.
Will the Andrews government hear the quiet Victorians, that is the majority who oppose the cruelty, fear and noise of duck shooting?
We really don't know. While shooters groups gloat of their relations with politicians, sadly the rest of us wait for answers to letters which often never come.
With the Labor Party's almost unanimous vote recently to review duck shooting in Victoria, we know you are with us in our hope to see a sensible decision to call a cease-fire for 2020 and beyond.
There's a better way for our waterways.
Thank you to all who helped with and supported our submission. It can be viewed here;
East Australia Annual Waterbird Survey, Centre for Ecosystem Science, University NSW
GMA 2020 Season Considerations Document
(1) Pegasus Consulting Group Report 2017
Picture Australasian Darter chicks, courtesy Eleanor Dilley. Sadly often non "game" birds are killed in the crossfire of recreational duck shooting in Victoria.