Thursday, 1 June 2023


Duck hunting


Duck hunting

Georgie PURCELL (Northern Victoria) (15:59): (279) My adjournment matter this afternoon is for the Minister for Outdoor Recreation, and the action I seek is for the minister to ensure that the 2023 duck-shooting season is the last one to ever go ahead in Victoria. On the opening morning of the 2023 recreational duck-shooting season, a rescuer at Gunbower Creek near Echuca watched a black swan fall from the sky after flying onto powerlines as gunfire erupted. It signalled the beginning of a five-week onslaught on Victoria’s native waterbirds. That same day shooters had already made headlines for illegally shooting and harvesting a blue-winged shoveler and attempting to hide the evidence in a tree hollow.

It was not long before local residents started reporting further illegal behaviour. Not only were shooters firing at closed wetlands, shots could be heard as early as 7:30 am, half an hour earlier than the permitted starting time. Similar situations were unfolding at wetlands across our entire state. Rescue teams at Lake Connewarre searched desperately for birds who had fallen into dense reeds while the men that injured them continued to shoot.

Shooters were permitted to kill four birds per day this year, but there was no apparent limit on wounding. At the end of the weekend 22 birds had been brought into Wildlife Victoria’s veterinary triage by rescuers – all still alive. Despite the best efforts of volunteer rescuers, carers and vets, not a single bird could be saved. Among the dead were eight illegally shot protected and threatened species, including the freckled duck, one of Australia’s rarest waterbirds. By day 7 rescuers had retrieved 73 native waterbirds from just a handful of sites. Each one had been wounded and left to die by shooters.

At the beginning of May a Geelong business owner found the bodies of nine native ducks dumped on a residential nature strip with obvious gunshot wounds. None had been harvested for meat, as is required by the wildlife game regulations. Today I continue to receive reports – from vets and rescuers who volunteered their time at closing weekend – of shooting into flocks, shooting out of range, shooting over bag limits, improper killing methods, flouted gun safety and deliberate prolonged suffering. Empty shotgun cartridges litter the wetlands as yet another season comes to an end.

Thanks to the tireless effort of volunteer wetland surveyors, a total of 18 sites were closed to shooting during the 35-day season. Whilst threatened and endangered species were offered a reprieve at these sites, the protection should not have been an afterthought. This practice has no place in Victoria, and I hope the minister will support a complete end to cruel duck shooting after this year.