Politicians want duck season explained

PRESSURE is mounting on Victorian Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas to explain Victoria’s reduced duck hunting season.

Announced earlier this month, the 2021 duck hunting season will span 20 days, and have a bag limit of two birds per day.

In parliament last week, Eastern Victoria MLC Bath said duck hunters were frustrated and disappointed at the decision to severely restrict Victoria’s season.

“In contrast, the Tasmanian state government has announced a full three-month season and a 10-bird bag limit,” she said.

“Evidence to support a full duck season was provided to the GMA by the Victorian Duck Hunters Association, Field and Game Australia, Sporting Shooters Association of Australia and the Shooting Sports Council of Victoria.

“The question remains how the wild duck population can be found to be so drastically different in two neighbouring states.

“I have called on the minister to release the scientific evidence behind its decision because as it looks right now, it just doesn’t stack up.”

As with all constituency questions, the minister has 30 days to provide a written response.

On Thursday, Western Victoria MLC Andy Meddick asked Ms Thomas (who was not present) for a similar explanation.

“Cutting the daily bag limit down from the legislated amount of 10 is an acknowledgement by the government that our native waterbirds are struggling,” he said.

“To me and to so many other Victorians, this is even more proof of why the season should be cancelled and duck shooting ultimately banned altogether.

“Minister, eastern Australia has lost a staggering 90 per cent of its waterbirds in the last four decades.

“What is your reasoning for restricting the bag limit instead of not having a season at all?

“… if evidence of non-compliance with the bag limit is found, will the minister cancel the season completely?”

In the Australian Senate on Wednesday, Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie argued the move was politically motivated to unfairly target law-abiding duck hunters and rural communities supported by them.

“The Victorian Premier wants us to believe the shortened season is based on science, not politics, but he will not produce the science he claims supports his case,” she said.

“This should be seen for what it is: another step by Labor towards banning a lawful activity that delivers health, wellbeing, cultural and recreational benefits for participants and significant economic benefits for communities visited by law-abiding hunters.”

However, lobby group Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Hunting says a survey of shooters in 2013 and again in 2019 showed duck shooters’ spend fell on average 46 per cent across Victoria.

It fell even more-so in Gippsland, 59 per cent, with Traralgon and Bairnsdale falling by 72 per cent.

More than half of Victorian voters surveyed in a recent UComms and ReachTel poll, which was commissioned by the Animal Justice Party, want the government to ban recreational duck hunting.