HUNTING REGULATION: VICTORIA FAILS
BALLS OR BIRDS, PREMIER?
Three weeks down. Nine to go. It’s hard to imagine the destruction which will ensue before June 13, given what’s happened already.
In the first few days of Victoria’s “recreational” native bird shoot which started March 16, the Herald Sun reported 30 hunting offences. As happens every year, mayhem and massacre was witnessed around the state. Sadly, the reports of illegal hunting which hit the news are likely just the tip of the iceberg because shooting is not monitored at thousands of public waterways (which have been neither risk-assessed nor signposted as shooting areas.)
At Kerang's RAMSAR wetlands of international significance (which could be a tourism mecca if it weren’t the playground of a few bird shooters), threatened duck species were killed. Dead and dying birds were left behind and terrified swans forced to abandon their nests and cygnets.
At wetlands in the south west, dead whole ducks were illegally left buried, apparently because they weren't the favoured species for their meat.
At Hearts̶ Morass – with its clear EPA warning signs saying, “DO NOT EAT – CONTAMINATED WATERFOWL”, shooters have been firing their guns with glee. Are they intent on poisoning their families or just killing birds for fun (against the law)?
Below: Shooting continued at this wetland in Gippsland, despite clear signage warning against consuming ducks.
In Gippsland, Geelong and Central Victoria, there were reports of duck shooters blasting their shotguns well before legal time, and no authorities on hand. The regulators’ phone lines are unattended outside business hours (when most shooting takes place), and police are otherwise engaged.
Online reports made by members of the public received a “response” days later from the regulator, saying the matters would not be investigated because there were no offenders identified. So, with numerous armed individuals roaming unfettered at thousands of public waterways, evidently it is up to members of the public to put themselves in harm’s way to collect photographic evidence so the regulator might do its job.
So much for this being a so-called “highly regulated” activity.
So much for keeping Victorians safe.
Below: "responses" from the regulator to reports of illegal hunting made by the public, were received many days later, advising the reports would not be progressed.
Conspiracy or Incompetence?
Rules surrounding hunting (the "regulations"), expire each ten years. They cover issues such as when and where shooters can shoot, whether shooters should be 18 years old (as per the National Firearms Agreement) or just twelve years old, and to what extent the non-shooting public should be excluded from public areas.
The regulations are due to expire (and be "refreshed"?) within months. The clock is ticking. Yet there is no indication by The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) about when public consultation might occur.
Will this be another situation where hunt clubs are really the only ones involved in the design of rules which affect thousands of public areas across the state, and 6.5 million other (non-hunting) Victorians?
It would be reasonable to assume that those working in areas involving hunting policy have little empathy for animals or regional families having to live with hunting on their doorsteps. However safety is too important an issue not to involve serious public consultation and proper risk assessment.
Safety 101: Victoria Fails.
Two walkers were shot by duck shooters in New Zealand just last year. Is it really sensible to have folks running around with firearms unmonitored, shooting before sunrise, at so many thousands of public waterways authorities can’t count them? Throw inaccurate hunting maps into the mix and we have the trifecta for what many would view as total stupidity, even negligence.
For years, government has been aware their hunting maps are incomplete. But nothing has changed other than the addition of a disclaimer on their website to that effect.
School health and safety officers are unable to conduct risk assessments for excursions along public waterways because of the maps’ unreliability, raising questions of liability should an accident occur. Perhaps we should just keep our children locked up in the cities for three months due to the risk of being shot. Add that to their mental health woes.
And while on the subject of mental health, the impact on regional Victorian families subjected to months of booming gunfire in close proximity from before sunrise, has never been considered by government. The impact is real. See some of what people said in our surveys, here.
Victorians Teed off with the Premier.
Meanwhile the Victorian Premier has said he sees no difference between playing golf or shooting ducks. We hope he has read some of the irate responses from regional folk on that one.
To emphasise a few important points:
Vets are not required to be on hand at golf courses to treat wounded golf balls.
There are no polls showing most Victorians want golf banned.
Golf is not banned in other states.
Nearby residents have no need to call authorities due to illegal golfing causing angst to their children, animals or businesses.
The outcome of applying the same principle to duck shooters as to golfers, that is 300,000 golfers share 374 golf courses so 25,000 duck shooters should share 31 duck shooting areas (not thousands as now).
Golfers don’t get taxpayer subsidies like duck shooters do and they don’t tee off at thousands of public waterways seemingly without a care about who or what gets hit.
Perhaps the Premier could favour his country constituents and host the duck shooters in his own backyard, because most Victorians don’t want them in theirs.
A few recent media articles:
For more media articles, see our website
For our beautiful birds who cannot speak for themselves, and the communities who love being home to them, thank you for your support.