Duck season to go ahead in three states

Issue 

Duck season to go ahead in three states

By Mark Berriman

The NSW government has declared March 16 to be the official opening day of the 1991 duck season. In Victoria the season will open on March 16 and in Tasmania on March 9.

In spite of growing public opposition the governments of these states and SA have thumbed their noses at the people they purport to represent and have once again sanctioned the annual massacre of our native wildlife.

In 1988, the NSW government's own Animal Welfare Advisory Council produced a report recommending a total ban on the season, but its recommendations have been consistently ignored by both Labor and Liberal governments.

So far the only enlightened response has come from the WA government, which called the season off due to public demand in spite of opposition in the Liberal-dominated upper house.

The Victorian government's attempts to pacify angry conservationists have included a duck species recognition test for all shooters applying for a licence. Although a step in the right direction, it has had no significant effect on the numbers of protected species being shot.

The NSW minister for the environment, Tim Moore, has neglected to introduce a similar test, allowing thousands of shooters who have failed the test in Victoria to cross the border and shoot without hindrance in NSW.

This is borne out in the licence numbers for 1991. Of the 5500 licensed duck shooters in NSW, only 2100 reside in that state.

The NSW Animal Welfare Advisory Council estimates that between 10 and 30 per cent of birds will be wounded during any one season. The shooting itself will deposit several tonnes of lead into the aquatic environment in the form of shotgun pellets. During the 1986 duck season in SA, more than 100 magpie geese (an endangered species) died from lead poisoning in Bool Lagoon after it became contaminated by pellets.

Last year, of the 219 birds found by duck rescue volunteers, 55 were protected species, including five freckled duck (amongst the rarest in the world).

This year duck rescue volunteers will again be collecting wounded birds in the wetlands. For more information contact:
(NSW) Duck Coalition, PO Box 126, Terrey Hills 2084, (02) 450 2122
(Victoria) Animal Liberation, GPO Box 1196K, Melbourne 3001, (03) 650 4554
(Tasmania) Jim and Linda Collier (03) 30 1530.