Duck shooting: Victoria is still the lonely hunter in eastern Australia

Regional Victorians opposed to Duck Shooting has written to Mount Alexander Shire urging it to take a more proactive role in getting rid of shooting at Cairn Curran.

FOBIF, along with Bird Life Australia (Castlemaine district) and the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club, has endorsed the letter, which is a follow up to one sent in May.

Sanctuary or hunting ground? Victoria is the only eastern state to allow the recreational shooting of birds.

Council doesn’t have the power to ban duck shooting at the reservoir—but it could put pressure on Coliban Water, which does have that power.

Recreational shooting of birds is banned in NSW, Queensland, WA and the ACT, but not in Victoria.

The substance of the letter is as follows:

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…Our petition to have bird shooting banned, and the area made a sanctuary, followed Council’s motion in March 2019 to advocate for a ban on duck shooting at Cairn Curran.

We understand Council cannot ban it. However, we had hoped you could heed fresh calls from community, to liaise with Goulburn Murray Water who can, (but have so far refused to consider it), and if that was not successful, the relevant Ministers.

Since Council’s vote in March 2019, we believe there are many new reasons to strengthen your advocacy:

  • Our petition/joint letter obtained 483 signatures, mostly local rate-payers … By comparison, we are advised by your governance team that a counter petition by duck shooters achieved only 21 signatures, only 11 local.
  • Other wetlands, such as two in Mildura in 2019, were closed to shooting for public safety– (without 483 signatures).
  • Despite one in four Victorians now living in regional areas, there has never been any public consultation, nor risk assessment, nor even desk top studies to consider the impacts – physically or mentally, of shooting on residents and other recreational users. As you can see, impacts are clear.
  • Economically, Mount Alexander Shire was one of ten LGAs noted as having the least if any, economic contribution from hunters (DEPI, “Estimating the Economic Impact of Hunting” 2014). Meanwhile ongoing polls show most visitors avoid areas where there is shooting, and nature tourism, especially birdwatching, is rapidly gaining in popularity. Year-ending December 2019, over 1.4 million tourists birdwatched across Australia, spending $2.88 billion. More overnight domestic tourists birdwatched than visited the Great Barrier Reef, and the number of international tourists who birdwatched was more than double those who fished (Tourism Research Australia National Visitor Survey).
  • It’s no secret Victoria is failing dismally to protect threatened species. Cairn Curran is home to many unique and threatened species and protecting them would be positive branding for Council. …. However, we were disappointed in the official response to our petition / joint letter, received back from your CEO. If we have understood that correctly, it appears Council cannot help our cause without more complaints made to authorities.

It appears nonsensical that a serious incident must occur before action is taken.

We would like to again ask that you represent the ratepayers who want a safer, more peaceful, enjoyable amenity. Please lobby those in government who can make it happen. To do so, would appear to be in line with the Pillars of Council, and the General Local Laws in place to ensure a safe, fair, and reasonable use of public places (e.g., # 26, 2 (h), # 33 and # 35).

There are only 25,000 duck shooters for all Victoria (only about half, that is around 12,000, actually participate in the activity – GMA data). But there are circa 35,000 public waterways where they can go to shoot birds (neither DELWP nor GMA have been able to confirm the total number, which is far more than just the list of “specified areas” referred to on their website).

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