Duck Season to go ahead

December 23 2004, Herald Sun

see article

Dump Bracks, says Levy

March 24 2004, Weekly Times

see article

Protesters swamp duck season start

March 21 2004 , Sunday Age
by Kirsty Simpson, State Reporter

Protesters outnumbered duck shooters more than three to one at the key battleground of the opening of the Victorian duck shooting season yesterday.

Hird Swamp , in the Kerang wetlands, attracted about 30 shooters and 100 protesters, the Department of sustainability and the Environment said. Other areas attracted more shooters.

The Coalition Against Duck Shooting, headed by veteran campaigner Laurie Levy, marshalled 85 “rescuers”, who said they found several dead swans and protected blue shovellers at Johnson Swamp, and other game they suspected hunters had discarded after reaching their two-bird bag limits.

The coalition was joined by the ALP Members Opposed to Duck Shooting – which has been campaigning for the State Government to ban shooting.

A ban was also backed by the Australian Democrats this week, with party leader Senator Andrew Bartlett calling duck shooting cruel, environmentally destructive and unnecessary.

Protesters were charged with more than 40 offences, for entering wetlands and approaching within 10 metres of a hunter.

Several hunters were also charged, for hunting without a licence and shooting before the season opened.

Mr Levy said it was irresponsible to allow shooting anywhere in the swamp because it was home to endangered birds.

Painted snipes and freckled ducks, and protected species such as pelicans and spoonbills lived in parts of the swamp closed off to shooters.

But a department spokesman said the problem of mistaken shooting of protected birds had been minimised in recent years after the introduction of a species identification test for shooters applying for licences. However, Environment Minister John Thwaites was “nothing more than a gamekeeper”, Mr Levy said.

” Victoria desperately needs an environment minister who is prepared to put the needs of our native water birds ahead of just pandering to the state’s few remaining duck shooters. Many of the state’s wetlands are dry, and native waterbirds are congregating on those wetlands that still have water.”

This duck season was Victoria ‘s first in two years. The Government has reduced the bag limit to two birds of any, non-endangered species, as well as three wood ducks, which are considered common.

The average bag yesterday was two ducks in the state’s north-west, one or two in the north-east and fewer than one elsewhere.

But Mr Levy said the bag limit was useless, and that hunters shot more birds than was legal, bagging only the maximum allowed.

DSE flora and fauna manager Robert Begg said the best hunting conditions were at Broken Creek, in the north-east, where the average bag was five ducks for the 150 hunters. Because of dry conditions the Government has kept six other wetlands closed, and reduced the season to two months.