The slaughter of Bool Lagoon

Issue 

The slaughter of Bool Lagoon

By Pamela Irving

-1>ADELAIDE — At 6.45 a.m. on March 2, the sky over Bool Lagoon in South Australia's south-east echoed to the boom of guns and the cries of water birds taking flight as 550 camouflage-clad, shotgun-toting humans waged war on the peaceful population of the wetlands.0>

Was it mere coincidence that this year's duck opening attracted a record number of hunters, many of them first-time shooters? Or could a steady diet of televised glorification of war over the previous six weeks have caused a few latent warriors to come out of the closet?

What makes grown men drive hundreds of kilometres and rise before dawn to wade through mud and icy water to shoot a little creature in its peaceful environment?

It can't be a matter of skill. Clay pigeon shooting could provide more precise proof of prowess with guns. Nor can it be the need for meat. The supermarket would definitely be cheaper. Is it atavism, a remnant of our ancestors' needs to hunt and kill?

Many shooters claim to be conservationists, and some invest substantial sums in developing wetlands areas as future hunting sites. Many changed from lead to steel shot when it was learned that swans were dying after eating lead pellets from the bottom of lagoons (though perhaps the official ban on lead shot also contributed to that change of heart).

But despite all the shooters' claims to environmental consciousness, the suffering of hundreds of injured birds left to die painfully doesn't seem to matter. n