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Shooters' state




Just three months ago GMA – the “independent” regulator tasked with ensuring sustainability, recommended a reduced native waterbird shoot of 20 days with two birds a day per shooter. Grey Teal were off the game list due to their particularly low numbers and Chestnut Teal also off it in many areas due to their resemblance to Grey Teal. GMA said long term trends were important in making decisions.

Environmental and wildlife groups believed NO season should have been called at all based on significantly declining waterbird indices. Previous governments have held moratoriums for less dire circumstances in 2003, 2007 and 2008.

But a dummy spit by shooters and MPs who are members of hunting clubs, appears to have resulted in a remarkable pirouette by GMA who are now lifting restrictions based on a single helicopter survey of just 650 waterbodies (out of tens of thousands) which illogically assumed that numbers and species of ducks observed on that small number would be same on others.

GMA have more than doubled the kill limit and suddently apparently Chestnut Teal don’t look like Grey Teal. Restrictions to shoot either are gone. Note that the helicopter surveys failed to actually get a count of each species because observers couldn’t distinguish between them – only a combined total.

What was wrong with the most robust independent scientific surveys of circa 50 species over 2000 waterbodies which have been carried out for over 37 years building up the most conclusive long-term dataset available? It appears nothing other than shooters don’t like the picture those surveys paint. Because the picture's bad. Wetland area, waterbird abundance, and breeding are all on significant downwards trajectories. There has been little if any breeding the last two years.

Taxpayers – most of whom oppose bird shooting – have hence had to fund a new helicopter survey, and after just the first one, GMA have decided to make drastic changes to a shooting season which starts in a month. What happened to the importance of long-term datasets?

This helicopter survey is not an accurate count and hardly a basis for making snap decisions involving increased killing of our native wildlife. Notwithstanding GMA have still conducted no analysis of the impact of shooting to threatened species, nor any social/economic impact studies on anyone other than a small group of shooters.

Finally, it’s unclear where the scientific basis is for GMA’s recent spruiking of a 10% kill rate being sustainable – particularly given birds aren’t breeding. Worse, the baseline for the mysterious 10% comes from a telephone survey of shooters about how many birds they shot. GMA are well aware this relies on shooters’ memories and honesty and totally misses the circa 25% of birds which are wounded and fly off to die slowly elsewhere, or the birds found buried in pits later.

This latest announcement is just another example of what many believe is GMA’s complete incompetence. These are not evidence-based decisions, but appear entirely based on political pressure. Many would agree shooters seem to be running this state.

Recreational bird shooting is banned in QLD, ACT, NSW and WA. In Victoria, less than half of one percent of the population shoot birds while continual independent polls show the majority want the activity banned.

Quotes by RVOTDS:

“We know shooter groups can be bullies. We experience it often. But Victorians deserve a government who can stand up to bullies and make the right decisions for our precious native wildlife and rural communities.”

“It’s time this government listened to science and to their constituents – that is their job – instead of pandering to a minority group of shooters”.

"It's clear there is no real understanding of the number of birds in Victoria, same as there is no idea about how many are shot including protected species. Is it any wonder there is a Parliamentary Inquiry into Victoria’s Ecosystem Decline?”

"These flimsy justifications for bird shoots are laughable guesswork at best. Victoria deserves better. It’s time the millions of taxpayer dollars funding GMA were instead diverted to wildlife watching tourism prospects – we are blessed with wildlife found nowhere else on earth – if we don’t kill it off first.”

"Rural folk will tell you there are very few ducks around. There are a few ducklings around now who should have been allowed to grow up and breed themselves in an attempt to repopulate the species. Instead in just over a month they will likely be orphaned or shot – that is, dead in either case.”

Note: if this linear trend continues, game bird extinction could occur on or before 2030. Graph source GMA website - Animals Australia submission re 2021 season


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