2004 Media Releases
CALL FOR THE RSPCA TO DUMP PREMIER BRACKS AS PATRON
March 18 2004 , Media Release
The President of the RSPCA, Dr Hugh Wirth, yesterday said he would no longer tolerate certain politicians who have bad track records on animal welfare, holding the title of Patron of the RSPCA.
Laurie Levy, Campaign Director of the Coalition Against Duck Shooting has called on Dr Wirth to dump Premier Steve Bracks as the RSPCA’s patron in Victoria .
“How could the RSPCA have any credibility at all when its patron in Victoria is responsible for Australia ‘s largest recreational wildlife slaughter?” Levy asked today.
“Premier Steve Bracks has again this year sanctioned the unnecessary slaughter of native waterbirds – just to keep a handful of duck shooters in this state happy.
“The premier should follow the example set by state Labor premiers in Western Australia and New South Wales and immediately ban the recreational shooting of native waterbirds.
“There is a contradiction here – Mr Bracks may be considered a good premier and a nice bloke, but he cannot be allowed to remain a patron of an anti-cruelty organisation while he sanctions Australia ‘s largest recreational wildlife slaughter,” Levy concluded.
RESCUE TEAMS TO TARGET HIRD SWAMP, near KERANG 20 March 2004 duck opening.
March 19 2004 , Media Release
The Coalition Against Duck Shooting will target Hird Swamp , 20 kms south east of Kerang on the opening of the 2004 duck season, Saturday 20 March.
Endangered Painted Snipe and rare and threatened Freckled Ducks have recently been sighted on this wetland in north west Victoria . Recent DNA testing of Painted Snipe has revealed they are unique to Australia , as are Freckled Ducks. Although the northern and western edges of Hird Swamp have been closed-off, the minister is irresponsibly allowing shooting on the rest of the wetland. Other protected species such as Pelicans and Spoonbills are also presently residing on this swamp.
The campaign director of the Coalition Against Duck Shooting Laurie Levy today said: “It’s outrageous that the Environment Minister can even consider opening this wetland to shooting, especially knowing endangered and threatened species are present.
“John Thwaites is nothing more than a gamekeeper. Victoria desperately needs an Environment Minister who is prepared to put the needs of our native waterbirds 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 – they will be slaughtered on the opening morning,” Levy said.
“This year the ALP Members Opposed to Duck Shooting will form their own rescue team and join our rescuers on the swamp. We certainly appreciate their offer of help and admire their courage in challenging their own politicians’ lack of concern on this issue,” Levy concluded.
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.
2003 Media Releases
VICTORIAN DUCK RESCUE TEAM TO HELP TASMANIA’S WATERBIRDS
3 March 2003
DOES THE TAS ENVIRONMENT MINISTER REALLY SHOOT OUR NATIVE WATERBIRDS?
MEDIA CONFERENCE, 11.15AM, FRIDAY 7 MARCH, 2003, CORUS HOTEL, HOBART
The Coalition Against Duck Shooting will send an experienced rescue and veterinary team down to Tasmania for the opening weekend of the 2003 duck season (8-9 March).
The coalition’s campaign director, Laurie Levy, today said he was disappointed, but not surprised that the Tasmanian Government hadn’t acted responsibly and called a moratorium on this year’s duck season because of the ongoing drought.
“We had hoped that the Tasmanian Government would follow the South Australian and Victorian Governments’ decisions to call off the 2003 duck season. However, when we heard on the grapevine that the Tasmanian Minister for the Environment,
Bryan Green, is a keen duck shooter, we decided it was necessary to send a rescue team to Tasmania,” Levy said.
“To make the situation even worse, we understand that the minister’s own department has recommended that the 2003 duck shooting season be cancelled because bird numbers are low and many wetlands throughout the state are dry. Waterbirds seeking refuge from the drought will congregate on wetlands that still have water. These birds will be an easy target for shooters.
“Decisions related to declaring a duck season are not usually based on scientific advice or environmental concerns, but simply on political
Many mainland native duck species have flown to Tasmania seeking refuge from the long running drought. “These birds need to be protected so they can return to the mainland to breed once the drought breaks,” he said.
Western Australia banned the recreational shooting of native waterbirds in 1990.
New South Wales followed with a ban on recreational duck shooting in 1995.
Media Conference, Friday 7 March, 11.15am, Wellington Room, Corus Hotel, 156 Bathurst Street, Hobart.
Victorian rescuers will join Tasmanian rescuers at Moulting Lagoon, at the entrance to Fraycinet National Park, on Saturday morning, 8 March.
For further information contact:
Laurie Levy, Campaign Director
Bob Riep, Tasmanian rescue team Mobile 0417 143 028
2002 Media Releases
TRAGIC DEATH OF A DUCK SHOOTER – DNRE NEEDS TO REVIEW SAFETY
15 April 2002
The death of a Victorian duck shooter at Lake Colongulac, near Camperdown, on Saturday, was a terrible tragedy.
Campaign Director Laurie Levy said today:
“The shocking tragedy is compounded by the fact that after the opening weekend of the duck season, there are no wildlife officers patrolling Victoria’s wetlands, thus compromising safety and enforcement duties.
“Regional offices of the Department of Natural Resources & Environment are starved of finances to carry out their duties.
Also, both the previous Kennett Government and the Bracks Government have gutted the department where there are just not enough staff to carry out enforcement and safety duties throughout the season.
“The other problem is that wildlife officers, who are highly trained in firearm safety, are now not allowed to carry weapons.
So the Department of Natural Resources & Environment has just not disarmed their own highly trained wildlife officers, but the same department issues permits to hunt to any person in the community who wants to shoot without any safety or competence checks whatsoever.
“Since having their weapons confiscated, wildlife officers refuse to put themselves in danger where weapons are carried by the other party. The Department of Natural Resources urgently needs to address these issues.
“I believe it is only a matter of time before the relatives of a victim of a gun accident or gun misuse sue the Department of Natural Resources & Environment for negligence, in what will be a landmark case, similar to the recent victory over a tobacco company,” Levy said.
The Department of Natural Resources & Environment needs to be questioned why they allow shooters to wear waders. We won’t allow our rescuers to wear them for the simple reason that if you walk into a deep hole or fall overboard, the waders fill with water and down you go,” Levy concluded.
For further information contact:
MINISTER FOR CONSERVATION SHERRYL GARBUTT PLACES A TAXPAYER-FUNDED JUNKET AHEAD OF HER DUTIES
15 JANUARY 2002
The Coalition Against Duck Shooting has called on Premier Bracks to sack his Minister for Environment & Conservation Sherryl Garbutt.
Coalition Against Duck Shooting Campaign Director Laurie Levy today said:
“The decision to have a duck season was signed off a few days before Christmas by the Minister for Agriculture Keith Hamilton while the minister responsible, Ms Garbutt, was overseas on a taxpayer-funded junket.
“The decision was made before the bushfires took hold in New South Wales.
“The decision to sign off on the 2002 duck season also ignores expert scientific advice calling for a moratorium on duck shooting in Victoria, because of critically low numbers of native duck species along the east coast of Australia. Instead, the government has made a political decision to placate a small minority of duck shooters.
“The Minister for Environment & Conservation Sherryl Garbutt did not have enough interest or concern to make the final decision that will decimate or protect Australia’s native waterbirds,” Levy said.
“Native waterbirds come under the Minister for Conservation, not the Minister for Agriculture. But Minister Garbutt was more interested in jetting around the world on a taxpayer-funded junket. She has failed in her duties and should step aside or be sacked.
“Because of the New South Wales bushfires, as well as the ongoing drought, the Coalition Against Duck Shooting is calling on the Bracks Government to declare a moratorium in 2002. If the Kennett Government could call a moratorium because of the drought in 1995, then surely Premier Bracks should be able to act responsibly now,” Levy concluded.
2001 Media Releases
GARBUTT WILL SELL OUT OUR NATIVE WATERBIRDS IN 2002
28 December 2001
The Coalition Against Duck Shooting has called on the Minister for Environment & Conservation Sherryl Garbutt to declare a moratorium on the shooting of native waterbirds in 2002.
Campaign Director Laurie Levy today said: “Central and north-west Victoria are still in drought. The Bracks Government has spent taxpayers’ money artificially filling four major wetlands in the Kerang region – especially for duck shooters.
“Because of the dry conditions also being experienced in Queensland and New South Wales, waterbirds have flocked to the artificially filled wetlands in this state. Bushfires in NSW have made it even more imperative that a moratorium be called in Victoria.
“Waterbirds across Australia haven’t bred over the last seven years because of the ongoing drought. If a season goes ahead, duck species that have migrated from other states to Victoria’s wetlands will be shot down. These are the breeding birds of the future. Shooters are eating into the core population of duck species.
“Dr Richard Kingsford, senior ornithologist with the New South Wales National Parks & Wildlife Service, has, for the first time, privately called for a moratorium on duck shooting in Victoria. Dr Kingsford’s 2001 aerial survey has shown that duck species down the east coast of Australia are critically low. As the leading authority on waterbird populations, his advice to the Department of Natural Resources & Environment must not be ignored,” Levy said.
“Currently, there are rare and threatened Freckled ducks on Victoria’s wetlands. If these wetlands are open to shooting, then based on past experiences, 80 per cent of those birds risk being illegally shot.
Drastic cutbacks in the Department of Natural Resources and Environment also mean there are very few wildlife officers to police the state’s wetlands,” Levy said.
“In 1995, the Kennett Government acted responsibly and called a moratorium because of the drought. Surely, one could be forgiven for thinking a Labor Government would be more environmentally responsible – but they’re not. It’s about time Premier Steve Bracks showed a little respect for Australia’s native waterbirds and called a moratorium,” Levy said.
For further information contact: