Opening Weekend 2005

Rescue team battles angry shooters at McDonald Swamp, northwest Victoria.


The courage and commitment shown by duck rescuers again this year in the face of fire was just awe inspiring (see photographs).

The rescue team travelled to wetlands in northwest Victoria for the opening of the 2005 duck season. Although McDonald and Hird Swamps were the two best shooting spots in the state, after publicising that we were going there, shooters stayed away.

Over 110 rescuers converged on McDonald Swamp at 5am on the opening morning and moved out into the darkness to move so called game species away before the opening shooting time of 7.20am. Even though only about 80 shooters turned out onto the wetland, many were angry and a few reacted by pointing their weapons at rescuers.

In one incident, rescuer Noah Hannibal, was confronted by an angry shooter pointing his shotgun directly at him (see photograph), yet under this pressure and intimidation Noah courageously stood his ground and photographed the shooter. Police are presently investigating the incident. This powerful photograph has been emailed to all Labor Members of Parliament.

ALP members Opposed to Duck Shooting (MoDS) convenor Trevor Poulton was also threatened by another angry shooter around the same time. Victoria Police are investigating this incident as well.

Five days before the opening ALP MoDS flew a light aircraft (with an ALP pilot) and buzzed wetlands open to shooting in the Colac and Ballarat regions to move so called game species away in a pre emptive strike against the shooters.

Over the previous three months a small team of Lynn Trakell, John Auty, Dave Evans and myself covered the state checking water levels and bird numbers on wetlands.

Shooters' newsletters and websites were monitored to glean as much information as we could to help determine where the rescue team would go on the opening weekend.

David Evans and Lynn Trakell had the arduous task again of organising the rescue team. Meetings were held for new rescuers in the lead up to the big day. Buses and walkietalkies were hired. Funds were raised to cover the expenses for the opening weekend.

Karen Lawrence who has been with the rescue team for 14 years, and now lives in Brisbane, flew down on the Friday especially to be part of the team again, and then caught a plane back on the Monday afternoon (that's dedication).

Help for Wildlife and Wildlife Victoria brought their veterinary teams to the opening weekend to treat wounded birds.

Media coverage was again very strong this year. Opening weekend television news stories went to air in Queensland, NSW and South Australia as well as Victoria.

The Age newspaper ran another magnificent editorial on the opening morning of the season calling on the Victorian Government to ban the recreational shooting of native waterbirds as it has been it Western Australia (1990) and NSW (1995).

Great stories also ran in the Sunday Herald Sun, Monday's Australian and Ballarat Courier. Tuesday's Herald Sun covered the display of illegally shot protected birds and game species outside the Premier's office on the Monday morning.

There was also a great deal of radio news coverage (Melbourne and Regional).

Again this year, special credit must go to David Evans and Lynn Trakell. For without their superb efforts, the campaign would never get off the ground.

ALP Members Opposed to Duck Shooting team challenged their own politicians and decision makers through the media on the issue.

Rescue teams have continued to be on the wetlands throughout the season.

The numbers of duck shooters out on the state's wetlands this year was about 4,000 only, down from 95,000 in 1986. Public opinion has been the main reason for the huge decrease in duck shooter numbers over the years.



Laurie Levy
Campaign Director
Coalition Against Duck Shooting
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*photographs taken by Noah Hannibal

Photograph 1 Rescuer Mark Bain rushes an injured swan back to the mobile veterinary clinic.

Photograph 2 An angry shooter points his shotgun at rescuer Noah Hannibal. Noah stands his ground and takes this powerful photograph.
 

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History and Victories

2007 & 2008

Moratoriums called in Victoria and South Australia. The rescue team travelled to Moulting Lagoon, the entrance to Freycinet National Park, on the east coast of Tasmania to confront the shooters and protect waterbirds after the Tasmanian government refused to call a moratorium.

2008

Three states in Australia have now banned the recreational shooting of native waterbirds – Western Australia (1990), New South Wales (1995) and now Queensland (10 August 2005)

2005

Queensland’s Premier Beattie becomes the third state Labor government to ban the recreational shooting of native waterbirds.

The Age editorial (19 March) again calls for the recreational shooting of native waterbirds to be banned in Victoria.

The numbers of duck shooters in Victoria drops from 95000 in 1986 to 19,400 today, although only small number were active on the state's wetlands in 2005.

View our Opening Weekend 2005 article

2003

The Sunday Age editorial (12 January) calls on the Victorian Bracks Government to ban the recreational shooting of native waterbirds in Victoria.

The Victorian government calls a moratorium. Rescue team travels to Tasmania for the opening weekend of their duck shooting season.

2002

The Bracks Government's own Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC) recommends that the recreational shooting of native waterbirds be banned in Victoria because of the inherent cruelty.

2001

Lead shot banned in Victoria.

1995

Premier Bob Carr bans the recreational shooting of native waterbirds in NSW, the second state Labor government to ban the activity.

1993

The Age newspaper editorial (24 March) calls for duck shooting to be outlawed. The first sentence says: 'Duck shooting is not a sport, it is an obscenity'.

1990

The recreational shooting of native waterbirds is banned in Western Australia by the then Labor Government.

 

Latest Poll

Latest Morgan Research Poll - Majority of Victorians want duck shooting banned

Open Letter to Premier John Brumby

The Age (page 5) Thursday 27 November 2008 - click on image or link to view article.

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Latest Morgan Research Poll - Majority of Victorians want duck shooting banned.

View Morgan Research Poll PDF

- Read Poll Finding - Read Summary Report

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