2013 Articles

Box Flat floodplain bird massacre

Comments by Laurie Levy, Campaign Director

Over 2,000 native waterbirds were massacred at the Box Flat floodplain in 2013, including some 200 threatened Freckled Ducks (one of the world’s rarest waterbirds).

This illegal slaughter allegedly involved up to 150 mainly local shooters.

Box Flat is a private wetland near Boort in Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh’s electorate. Minister Walsh is also responsible for regulating duck shooting.

The Coalition Against Duck Shooting (CADS) received a tip-off on the 2013 opening weekend that a massacre of native waterbirds had taken place at Box Flat.  The Minister called an investigation after CADS notified the media.  At the time of writing, not a single shooter had been charged.  The Age newspaper published a full-page investigative report by Melissa Fyfe on May 13, 2013.

Yet Labor politicians remained silent, failing to speak out in defence of Australia’s native waterbirds.  They missed the opportunity to highlight this shocking slaughter and the Coalition Government’s appalling incompetence in failing to close wetlands to shooting where rare Freckled Ducks and other protected species were know to be present.

Laurie Levy, Campaign Director

illegally shot Freckled Duck (threatened species)

illegally shot Freckled Duck (threatened species)

Failure on so many levels

The Age editorial

14 May 2013

Why this state, which is home for so many progressive and broad-minded people, tolerates the ”sport” of duck hunting is beyond belief. It is not done to cull vermin. It serves no real purpose other than to stir the adrenalin of gumbooted shooters.

Victoria, under the Baillieu and now the Napthine government, allows duck shooters into every corner of this state – in all state forests, vacant Crown land and so-called game reserves – from March to mid-June. The problem is, some shooters do not respect even the most basic rules of engagement, such as making sure what you are shooting is, in fact, a duck. Do not shoot into flocks is another. And the simplest: pick up the carcasses.
But as The Age reported on Monday, there has been despicable, wanton carnage in at least one wetland. Whistling kites and black swans – which, to be perfectly clear, are not ducks – were among the 800 bird carcasses left at a small wetland near Boort on day one of the shooting season. Also found were 147 dead freckled ducks, an endangered species.

What does any of that mean to the reckless shooters who participated in this orgy of violence? One has to wonder. Clearly the swans that aren’t ducks, the kites that don’t quack, are mere collateral.
Duck shooting is unnecessarily cruel, and for this reason The Age deplores it. But it is also not being properly regulated in this state, and for that there is no excuse.

illegally shot protected Grebe

illegally shot protected Grebe

Illegally shot Freckled Ducks (displayed outside premier’s office)

Illegally shot Freckled Ducks (displayed outside premier's office)

Waterbird kill probe ‘nears end’

Chris McLennan Weekly Times  October 23, 2013

A LONG investigation into the slaughter of waterbirds at this year’s opening of Victoria’s duck hunting season is almost over.

Almost 800 ducks were shot and left in the water, along with 155 non-game birds, including about 40 rare freckled ducks and several black swans.

A spokeswoman for Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said after seven months of collecting statements and evidence, the investigation was almost complete.

The Weekly Times has been told the investigation still has about two weeks to run.

Coalition Against Duck Shooting campaign director Laurie Levy accused the Government of “stalling” over its investigation, which has involved wildlife officers and the Victoria Police.

“This has been a big cover-up and they are hoping that if they dragged it out for long enough the public would forget.”

Mr Levy said the Box Flat natural conservation reserve was located near Mr Walsh’s former tomato farm and inside his Swan Hill electorate.

“We have been told it was locals who did this so they are his constituents.”

Nearby landowners claimed it was occasional shooters “from the city” who were responsible.

Government compliance officers and police failed to detect the killings on opening morning claiming the illegal shooting only came to light after the dead birds were washed to shore by winds later that day.

About 150 shooters are believed to have been at the wetland on opening morning.

Mr Walsh had said “these individuals should have the maximum penalties applied to them, and they should not have the privilege of hunting again”.

Mr Levy said the number of waterbirds shot suggested most of those shooters at Box Flat on opening morning must have participated in the killing.

illegally shot Freckled Ducks outside premier’s office

illegally shot Freckled Ducks outside premier's office

Talking to media outside premier’s office

Talking to media outside premier's office

Hundreds of birds illegally shot

Weekly Times  AAP |  March 25, 2013

SEVERAL hundred birds were shot and left to die at a property on the opening weekend of the Victorian duck-hunting season.

The birds included rare and protected species.

So far, 760 game ducks and 155 non-game birds have been retrieved from a private property near Boort, in Victoria’s northwest, after the March 16-17 weekend.

The non-game birds include the protected freckled duck, coot and Australian grebe.

The state’s Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said the property was closed to shooters last week and would remain so until the end of the season.

Mr Walsh said it was a serious offence to shoot protected birds or to shoot more than the daily bag limit of 10 ducks.

Coalition Against Duck Shooting campaign director Laurie Levy laid out some of the dead birds on the front steps of Premier Denis Napthine’s office today.

“To be slaughtered like that is a terrible shocking waste of our endangered species,” he told AAP.
Mr Levy noted that given the premier was a former vet, he should have some compassion and make this the last duck-shooting season in Victoria.

Mr Levy said the investigation into the shooting had been inadequate, a claim Mr Walsh strongly denied.
“Any suggestion that this matter is not being investigated appropriately is without foundation and rejected,” he said.

Dr Napthine was in Geelong while the protest occurred.

Hunter warned of bird massacre

Duck slaughter Officials tipped off before shoot

The Age, by Melissa Fyfe, 13 May 2013,

Hunter warned of bird massacre The Age 13 May 2013

PDF Download 255Kb