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COALITION AGAINST DUCK SHOOTING
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Box Flat bird massacre exposes Napthine Government incompetence and failure to regulate recreational duck shooting seasons
$10,000 reward offered for information leading to a conviction
The Coalition Against Duck Shooting (CADS) is offering a $10,000 reward for any information leading to the prosecution and conviction of shooters responsible for the massacre of native waterbirds at Box Flat wetland, near Boort in northwest Victoria, on the opening morning of the 2013 duck shooting season. The $10,000 reward will be shared between those who provide information which leads to the conviction of any of the shooters involved.
Campaign Director Laurie Levy said today: “We are offering this reward to encourage shooters to identify those responsible for the appalling massacre of threatened species and other native waterbirds. According to government authorities, up to 150 duck shooters were involved. It follows a nine-month investigation by the Napthine Government which failed to identify or charge any of the shooters responsible.
“We are not surprised that the long-winded government investigation failed. A week after the slaughter and after the investigation had been called, a team of seven rescuers searched Box Flat and within two hours recovered 43 dead threatened Freckled Ducks (one of the rarest waterbirds in the world). These birds had been illegally shot the week before and were still floating on the water. It is concerning that the Government investigation team missed this vital evidence.
“It was only because of a tip-off to CADS and the subsequent media coverage, that Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh was forced to establish an investigation into the slaughter. We received information that approximately 2,000 native waterbirds (including over 200 Freckled Ducks) were shot that morning,” Levy said.
“The Box Flat private wetland is located in Peter Walsh’s Swan Hill electorate and we were told that the 150 shooters present that morning were mainly locals and Mr Walsh’s own constituents. They had also been joined by a number of shooters from a Bendigo gun club. It was reported that the Minister went to school and played football with one of the landowners.
“Yet, surprisingly, instead of sending a strong message reflecting the public’s outrage at the cruel and illegal massacre, the Napthine Government rewarded hunters with $17.6 million of taxpayers’ money from this year’s state budget, even before the investigation had been concluded. At no stage has the minister offered a reward to encourage shooters to speak out. Nor did the shooting organisations, who feigned outrage at the massacre, offer a reward to identify the culprits.
“Prior to the 2013 opening, it has come to light that a hunter had warned Mr Walsh’s departmental staff to watch Box Flat because a slaughter had taken place on this wetland the year before and there was talk that it could happen again. The 2012 incident had been successfully covered up. With this knowledge, why didn’t Game Victoria close the wetland to shooting, or at least take the warning seriously enough to have wildlife compliance officers policing Box Flat on the opening of the 2013 duck shooting season? The Director of Game Victoria, Simon Toop, has stated to the media that the department was more interested in going after rescuers on another wetland. This is not altogether surprising as we believe Mr Toop, as an active duck shooter, has a serious and unacceptable conflict of interest.
“We hope the $10,000 reward will encourage shooters with information to go to the police,” Levy concluded.
For further information, contact:
Mobile: 0418 392 826