Victoria's native Stubble Quail finally given some reprieve.
Restrictions imposed on quail shooters!
Victoria's "recreational" native Stubble Quail shoot slashed by two months.
IN a historic win for our tiny native Stubble Quail, restrictions have been placed on recreational quail shooters for the first time.
The shooting season which normally runs for three months from the first Saturday in April, before sunrise every day, this year will run one month from April 26, to May 30, commencing at 8am each day. This will bring some relief to surrounding communities and help in a small way to protect the little birds' numbers.
RVOTDS has been relentless in our campaign to ban quail shooting. We are grateful to decision makers for hearing us, and for implementing measures to minimise the carnage despite the predictable wrath of the "bully boys".
However there is no question the quail shoot should have been cancelled altogether and we've got more work to do.
Our native Stubble Quail numbers have been crashing, according to government harvest data. Both Arthur Rylah Institute spokespeople and GMA have advised that harvest data is a good indicator of population trends.
The regulator's first-ever "count" of this little bird early last year found just 101 of them (miraculously extrapolated up to 3.1 million with a high co-efficient of variation, or error indicator, of 29%). This was before unprecedented flooding would have taken an ugly toll on many of those remaining. (Quail are adversely impacted by fire and flood: Frith & Carpenter 1980).
Above: screenshots of just some of the flood alerts for Victoria after the count of native Stubble Quail.
Shooting & Fledging Co-incide
As if low numbers and floods weren't enough of a reason to stop the shoot, the little birds are due to be attempting to breed and fledge during the gunfire.
Game Management Authority timetable of Stubble Quail breeding, fledging and shooting - all co-inciding.
Damage to Farmers' Crops and Ecosystems
To top things off, inexplicably, it is still legal to use toxic lead ammunition in quail shooting. Lead ammunition was banned from use in duck shooting decades ago (but is still used illegally as is reported most duck shooting seasons.)
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.
A 2018 CSIRO study was scathing of Australia’s failure to take seriously the risks to humans, animals and the environment from lead ammunition. A recent study in which GMA itself took part, warned of "avoidable health risks to both people and wildlife".
Armed with all this scientific evidence, it's perplexing the regulator has still not seen fit to cancel the quail shoots, putting our native wildlife, farmers and the general public all at risk.