Ducks


When duck season is declared, hunters go to the wetlands and shoot down the ducks as they fly overhead. At the same time, us duck rescuers go out to the wetlands and pick up all the injured ducks. We do this, as an average of 50% of ducks that are shot at are not killed, but are only wounded. If we do not go into the wetlands, these ducks would be left behind by the duck shooters to slowly die as when a shooter fires his gun pellets spread and birds are often shot through their wings, eyes, feet or bodies.


The bird species that are considered “game species” are: Black Duck, Wood Duck, Grey Teal, Chestnut Teal, Pink-eared Duck, Mountain Duck, Hardhead and the Australasian Shoveller. These species are protected for 9 months of the year, yet the other 3 months are considered game species. We at D.U.C.K.I.E. cannot understand this. Why should they be protected for 75% of the year and for the other quarter of the year is allowed to be maimed or shot dead? If they are rare, or endangered enough for 9 months, surely they are rare or endangered for the other 3 months?


As well as the “game” species being shot, species that are protected all year round are shot, such as the Black Swan, the Goose, and the genetic rarity the freckled duck. In Victoria a $24,000 maximum fine is apparently given when a protected species is shot. In the 1999 opening season at Kerang and Buloke21 protected species were shot, such as: 28 Freckled Ducks, 4 Black swans, 2 Galahs, etc. A total of 21 protected species shot in two areas in the space of 1-2 months. Are we expected to believe that $24,000 fines we given each 21 times?


Lead bullets were allowed to be used up until about 3 years ago. Each year while lead shots were being used, 350 tonnes of lead was fired into wetlands by duck shooters. The ground can become poisoned by all the lead after duck season has finished. Waterbirds, when feeding, ingest spent lead shot and die from poisoning. A single lead shot ingested by waterbirds can cause chronic lead poisoning, which results in a slow, agonising death over a three-week period.


Lead shots still effects the environment and will continue to do so for many year to come. The majority of duck shooters still feel that the lead shot should be allowed, as apparently the lead shot is more effective. This shows the ignorance of duck shooters, thinking only about the killing of animals, not about the effects on the environment.


Arguments put forward by shooting organizations in defence of duck shooting include the financial boost hunters provide for some rural towns, particularly on opening weekend, the income for the gun and ammunition industry, and the \'satisfaction\' of hunters who like to hunt and kill ducks for eating.


Animal welfare and conservation groups argue that "eco-tourism" (visitors to the wetlands for bird watching and other non-violent recreation) could easily replace the (arguable) financial loss for rural communities; and that the lead shot problem and the killing of \'protected\' species cancel out any benefit provided by shooting organizations\' work.


Towns such as Boort and Donald in Victoria could make the same millions of dollars through eco-tourism as does Phillip Island with the penguins, and Warrnambool with the Southern Right Whales. Evidence has recently been found in NSW that counters this. In NSW most duck species help to control the numbers and levels of insects in cotton farms, etc.


Each year, the state Labor Government services a small minority of duck shooters by declaring a duck season, even whilst there is a drought, and decreased duck breeding numbers. There are many supporters of the anti-duck shooting movement, such Olympic gold mediallist shooters, Russell Mark and Michael Diamond.


Diamond saying “Though my skills would make it easy for me to shoot a duck, I have never shot a bird in my life. I love birds and would never shoot them.” There are no scientific or environmental reasons for ducks to be shot. Duck shooting is cruel. Duck shooting involves men, or women, with powerful weapons, dogs, whistles, and decoys. Waterbirds cannot defend themselves, let alone fight back against the shooters.