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Monday, March 25, 2013
Illegal slaughter includes 40 rare and endangered Freckled Ducks to be displayed outside the Premier’s Office today – Levy calls for action on Box Flat bird massacre
1 Treasury Place, East Melbourne, at 10am, Monday, March 25, 2013
The Coalition Against Duck Shooting will be displaying 40 illegally shot, rare and endangered Freckled Ducks outside the Premier’s Office at 10am today, together with a protected swan and many other protected and game species that were recovered by rescuers on the weekend.
Campaign Director, Laurie Levy, said today that the birds were recovered following a tip-off of the illegal slaughter of over 200 rare Freckled Ducks and around 2,000 other protected and game birds on the Box Flat floodplains near the town of Boort, in northwest Victoria, on the Opening morning of the 2013 recreational duck shooting season (on Saturday, March 16).
An investigation into the Box Flat bird massacre, announced by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) last Sunday, March 17, “appears to be more of a cover up of the crime scene than an investigation” with rescuers finding 40 rare Freckled Ducks at the wetland this weekend, Levy said. “If DPI was serious about its investigation, why did rescuers find 40 of this endangered species a week later? Surely if they are serious, they would have swept the wetland for carcasses for evidence of the true extent of the illegal slaughter.
“Following the Opening of the 2013 duck shooting season, information was leaked to us that DPI was trying to cover up a massacre of birds at the Box Flat floodplains near Boort. It was estimated that around 2000 birds were slaughtered including mainly game species, but also 200 rare and threatened Freckled Ducks, threatened Blue-billed Ducks, around 50 swans and other protected species including birds of prey.
“We believe the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) tried to have this wetland closed to shooting because of the large numbers of threatened species such as Freckled and Blue-billed Ducks, but DPI, with its huge conflict of interest, left it open for shooters,” Levy said.
“Approximately 150 mainly local duck shooters were present on the Opening morning. We were informed that members of the Field & Game Bendigo branch were also present (however, we have no evidence they participated in the slaughter), and that a similar unreported incident took place on this floodplain last year.
We have been told that even though DPI is now investigating, the full extent of this incident will never be made public as the vast majority of birds would have been removed before the investigation commenced.”
Levy went on to say: “This weekend, duck rescuers searched this wetland for dead and wounded birds. Forty dead, rare and endangered Freckled Ducks were recovered as well as a swan, grebe, coot and a large number of game species that had been shot and illegally left on the water to rot. There were also large numbers of wounded birds on this wetland which rescuers were unable to catch.”
Following this incident, the Coalition Against Duck Shooting is calling for the sacking of Game Victoria Director, Simon Toop, a long-time duck shooter. Levy said, “We believe that all Game Victoria compliance officers and staff who are duck shooters and members of the shooting organisations have a serious conflict of interest and should be moved to other jobs within DPI that are totally unrelated to duck shooting. These officers include Rodney Carter, Anthony Ball, Heath Dunstan, John Turnball and Stuart McGlashan.
“The DPI’s Game Victoria officers are only there to serve the shooters, not to protect native waterbirds. They are the gamekeepers. And with the transfer of management of duck shooting seasons from DSE to DPI in 2011, there is no one looking after threatened species like the endangered Freckled Duck, which is one of the ten most rare waterbirds in the world,” Levy said.
Victorian Greens Party MP Sue Pennicuik also raised the matter of the Box Flat bird massacre in Parliament last week: http://vicmps.greens.org.au/content/adjournment-duck-hunting-wetland-closures
UPDATE: Another 10 dead Freckled Ducks have been found at two other wetlands near Boort, where there were no DPI compliance officers to police hunter conduct.
For further information, please contact: Laurie Levy, Campaign Director Mobile: 0418 392 826