- Full Blown Victorian Native Quail Shoot Flies Under the Radar - Starting Easter Saturday
Heading to regional Victoria over Easter? Beware.
From 30 minutes before sunrise Easter Saturday until June 30, shooters – largely unmonitored – are allowed to fire (with lead ammunition) at native quail in state forests, forest parks, some leased, licensed and unoccupied crown land, as well as 16 public wildlife reserves and numerous private properties around Victoria for fun.
There’s been no public consultation and there are no warning signs at most of these places.
While low waterbird numbers have dominated headlines, the plight of our native quail - and the protected species they resemble - has slipped by in silence.
In a shocking admission, GMA - the taxpayer funded regulator tasked with ensuring sustainability and minimizing the impact of shooting on protected species - recently confirmed no population surveys have been carried out for quail.
In a worrying sign, GMA’s 2020 Season Report showed the lowest number of quail "bagged" per shooter per shooter-day in over a decade.* The vast majority (71% ) bagged none. There were fewer shooters out there shooting (COVID) so one would expect those that did go shooting would have each scored more.
The text sidesteps this alarming and significant result:
“Actual abundance of both groups (ducks and quail) of game animals may also have been reduced but we were unable to investigate this possibility from hunter survey data.”
This appeared to cause no concern for GMA who has once again let a full quail shoot roll by in Victoria of 20 birds a day per shooter. Even SA banned their quail shoot for the second year in a row.
Quail shooters are not tested to see if they can tell one species from another and quail are easily confused with the critically endangered Plains-Wanderer. Taxpayers are funding efforts to breed this ancient species to save it from extinction, while quail shooters could very easily kill it in the gloom before dawn.
Only one of the birds pictured below is the native stubble quail - legally allowed to be shot during Victoria's recreational quail shooting season. The other two are protected. Can you pick which one is the stubble quail?
Sadly it gets worse.
Lead ammunition was banned from use in duck shooting decades ago but is still used by quail shooters.
According to a Department of Sustainability & Environment report, each ammunition cartridge holds 30-45g of lead. Multiply 30g by the average number of 175,000 shot quail each year in Victoria (GMA harvest estimates) and one gets a staggering 5 tonnes of lead potentially pumped into Victorian (including food-producing) environments each season - without even adding in the lead deposited by missed shots. Lead is highly toxic.
A 2018 CSIRO study was scathing of Australia’s failure to take seriously the risks to humans, animals and the environment from lead ammunition.
Freedom of information has revealed some GMA officials are bird shooters themselves.
Most would agree recommendations about recreational wildlife shooting seasons should not be coming from those who will personally benefit from the decision.
This quail season is another nail in the coffin for our struggling native birds and will further pollute the environment. It’s ironic that there’s a Parliamentary Inquiry into Victoria’s ecosystem decline yet the GMA is presiding over yet another native wildlife slaughter with massive lead pollution.
In 2021, Victoria is the only state to allow recreational shooting of native Stubble Quail – a bird unique to Australia.
Don't get mad. Get writing. Please tell our environment Minister this is clearly wrong.
* According to the GMA 2020 Season Report (p14) an active quail shooter last year obtained an average of 5.1 quail in 4 days which equates to 1.28 birds per hunting day which is the lowest number recorded in twelve years.