How the campaign started

Laurie Levy and Neal Bethune campaigned to assist stranded whales from 1981 to 1988 (see their 47 minute documentary ‘The Whale Savers’ which was aired on ABC TV in 1984).

Once governments implemented their rescue plans and recommendations, the Whale Rescue Centre closed down.

However, to assist the whale campaign, in 1985 Laurie stood for the Democrats in Geelong.   The duck shooting season started on the same day as the election.  Laurie took a lunch break from handing out ‘how to vote’ cards and because he was curious to see what took place on the wetlands during duck openings, decided to visit the nearby Connewarre wetlands.

Laurie knew very little about native ducks at that time but did know that the pelicans, swans, ibis, cormorants and myriad of other species being illegally shot were not ducks.  He was outraged at the injustice to the beautiful birds and astounded that regulating officers were themselves shooting waterbirds instead of watching the hunters.

Later that year his intervention led to wildlife officers being prevented from shooting birds while on the job, and a change in the opening times so there was less shooting in total darkness before dawn.

Then in 1986, a group of 15 Animal Liberation rescuers joined a rescue team that Laurie organised at Reedy Lake, part of the Connewarre Lakes near Geelong, where they faced around 8,000 shooters. The wounded birds were recovered and taken to the CADS veterinary unit for treatment and care.

1986 – Duck rescuers, Matthew Perry and Patty Mark (Animal Liberation Vic.) at Lake Connewarre with the first two illegally shot protected birds (Australasian Coot) ever recovered by rescuers.
1986 - Veterinarian, Dr John Auty attending to wounded birds

For the first time native waterbirds were given intrinsic value as rescuers put themselves in danger to help the birds.

Because of the massive media coverage across Australia, Laurie realized there was potential to achieve much more for the birds, and he felt compelled to go further.

So the Coalition Against Duck Shooting was formed.  See its impact and victories here.

CADS has caused a huge shift in public opinion.  Whereas duck shooting was considered a totally acceptable activity in 1986, today the vast majority of Victorians regard it as a barbaric relic from the past which must be stopped in line with WA, NSW and Queensland where it was banned in 1990, 1995 and 2005 respectively, after influence and input from Laurie and Animal Liberation.