(Birdlife Australia; 26 March 2017)
BirdLife Australia is calling upon the Victorian Government to close wetlands supporting large numbers of threatened birds to duck shooters after the illegal slaughter of hundreds of protected and threatened waterbird species on the opening weekend of the season.
At least 118 Freckled Ducks and 38 Blue-billed Ducks, both threatened species, were killed at First Marsh near Kerang last weekend.
The Game Management Authority (GMA), a statutory authority that regulates hunting and advises the relevant minister on wetland closures, rejected BirdLife Australia’s pre-season call for this wetland to be closed due to the presence of at least 200 Blue-billed Ducks. The GMA argued that Blue-billed Ducks are “rarely shot”—as “reluctant,” weak flyers that inhabit deep water and tend to dive rather than fly, they were at low risk of being in the firing line.
With almost 20 per cent of these birds now dead, it is clear that the GMA couldn’t have been more wrong.
Worse still, the carnage happened in plain sight of GMA staff, police and other authorities—but it’s highly unlikely that anyone will be prosecuted.
GMA have released a statement condemning the actions of hunters who have “done the wrong thing.” With over 1,000 ducks and other waterbirds left for dead on the First Marsh, it is clear that this admonishment is too little too late and that too many shooters are either unwilling or incapable of following the rules.
Only a fraction of the wetlands open to shooting were monitored last weekend and the numbers killed and left by shooters at The Marshes area alone far surpasses the infamous ‘Box Flat Massacre’ of 2013 where over 700 birds were illegally shot, including more than 100 threatened Freckled Ducks.
There is an unequivocal case that First Marsh and other wetlands carrying significant numbers of protected and threatened species should be immediately closed to shooters. The illegal shooting of over 1,000 birds on the opening weekend of the season brutally demonstrated the weakness of the GMA’s case and Ministers Jaala Pulford and Lily D’Ambrosio will have yet more blood on their hands if they do not act immediately to prevent these disgraceful yet predictable events being repeated.