...& How We Are Killing It
- The People or The Guns? -
For the first time since mid-March, regional Victorian residents and visitors can enjoy their surroundings free of bird shooters’ gunfire that starts before sunrise.
The 2022 recreational native duck shoot went for a quarter of the year, at so many thousands of public lakes, streams, rivers, reservoirs, waterways and wetlands around Victoria, that the regulator has been unable to provide an estimate of the number of shooting sites, let alone signpost them as danger zones or monitor them for hunters’ compliance.
Judging from witness reports, there was carnage once again across the state. Early shooting was reported at multiple locations, threatened species were shot, injured birds left behind, swan eggs and cygnets abandoned as their terrified parents left their nests, and shooting took place in thick fog… One can only imagine the impact to our native wildlife, including threatened species, during one of the most extensive bird shoots ever allowed.
This year’s extra-long duck shoot has been justified by the hunting lobby and government representatives as being based on the recommendation of two scientists, Professors Kingsford and Klaassen.
But the Professors actually stated a “drastically reduced shooting length” is needed to make a difference to the number of birds killed and agreed that this would also make compliance monitoring easier. They agreed that the annual duck toll could be reduced by EITHER a drastically shortened season OR a reduced bag limit. Alas, shooters prefer a long season, and taxpayers were forced to fund yet again, a minority unpopular and cruel pastime for an extended period of time in which regulators apparently looked the other way at the small percentage of shooting locations they visited. The 2022 duck shoot was the longest ever (apart from 1986 when Sunday shooting was first introduced).
The “recreational” native stubble quail shoot went for even longer, despite the hunting regulator (which is tasked with ensuring sustainability and minimizing impact on threatened species) confirming it had little if any data on the little bird’s numbers prior to the season.
It gets worse. There are no accuracy tests required of quail shooters. Two species of quail have threatened status, and quail look like the critically endangered Plains-wanderer. Taxpayers are paying significant sums of money to save the little Wanderer from extinction. What could possibly go wrong when shooting in poor light from before sunrise, often at a distance?
RVOTDS was proud to have a near full page Opinion Piece in the Ballarat Courier recently, shining a light on the plight of our native quail. (See links at the end of this newsletter).
The People or The Guns?
As far as impact of shooting to regional residents goes, still no social/economic impact studies have been conducted, and no safety risk assessments performed. Yet one in four Victorians now live in regional areas. Folks from Echuca to Gippsland, took to the media to share their experiences of how shooting adversely impacts their lives and livelihoods. (See links below).
Incorrect hunting maps provided by government agencies made headlines in May. And they’re still incorrect.
While regional folk and wildlife conservationists are perplexed that Victoria persists with a pastime they believe to be damaging to rural communities and ecosystems, the hunting lobby continues to push its cause, as many would say “with no respect”.
Field and Game Australia (FGA) are promoting a “Parliamentary Shoot Day”. We look forward to seeing which MPs attend! We’re fascinated that FGA consider MPs to be above the standards for regulators who are constrained from accepting gifts or hospitality which could be perceived as attempts to influence.
Sporting Shooters Association – which proudly boasts its longstanding mateship with the American National Rifle Association (NRA) - has already announced its focus on the 2023 bird shoots, despite the known cruelty, the fact most Victorians oppose it and the fact a good proportion of their own members oppose it too.
And the Andrews government continues to placate the shooters, despite the fact they represent less than 1 percent of Victorians. A further $950,000 in grants to five Victorian shooting clubs was announced last year. By our calculations, Victorian taxpayers have funded more than $17m in handouts to gun clubs since 2014.
Our Economic Opportunities are Wild
Meanwhile, Tourism Research Australia has released its latest National Visitor Survey data. For the year ending March 2022, the number of domestic tourists who birdwatched skyrocketed by 40% in twelve months up to 751,000, (that's more than the number who participated in scuba diving and snow sports put together). These birdwatching tourists spent $414 million, that’s over forty times more than the recent Parliamentary Budget Office estimates of the net value of duck shooting (estimates which didn’t look at its cost to communities - such as compliance monitoring, lost tourism, inability to work from home, or trespass damage).
This domestic tourist data is in addition to International tourist data which shows that, pre-Covid, there were 608,000 international tourists in a single year who birdwatched and spent a whopping $2.6 billion. Hence we are talking about a pastime worth over $3 billion to our country, a pastime which is hampered by a handful of bird shooters who are getting eye-watering sums of government funding, (funding that could instead be going to conservation efforts or improving our struggling health system).
Incidentally, Victoria lags Queensland and New South Wales for the number of jobs and spend associated with tourism. In 20/21, Victoria saw roughly half the Gross State Product derived from tourism as NSW. This does not appear covid related because it was also roughly half in 18/19.
(Incidentally too, Queensland and New South Wales banned recreational bird shooting long ago).
**Stay tuned for our next "Election Year" newsletter when we will share results of dozens of Freedom of Information Requests**
Some of our 1/4 advertisements which have run in regional newspapers recently.
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