Media releases 2012

Monday, 19 November 2012

Duck shooter pleads guilty in the Ballarat Magistrates’ Court to assaulting a female rescuer at Lake Buloke

Victorian duck shooter John McCartney, 57, today pleaded guilty in the Ballarat Magistrates’ Court to assaulting a female duck rescuer at Lake Buloke in central Victoria on the opening morning of the 2012 duck shooting season.

McCartney had approached rescuer Sarah Dalgleish in an angry and menacing manner and proceeded to try to tear a camera from around her neck. The footage she captured during the incident was given to police as evidence (see video

Magistrate Couzens today ordered McCartney to pay $750 to the court and ordered him to be of good behaviour for two years.  Having previously watched the footage, Magistrate Couzins said he completely understood how the victim had felt.  He said that McCartney posed an intimidating figure and went much too far.

Campaign Director Laurie Levy today said: “The attack on our rescuer was a frightening experience, but she said it won’t deter her from helping our native waterbirds in the future.  It’s shameful that the Baillieu Government continues to allow our native waterbirds to suffer unnecessary cruelty just for the enjoyment of a small number of duck shooters. The public would expect more kindness and consideration from Premier Ted Baillieu toward our beautiful native waterbirds.

“The courage and commitment from rescuers having to face angry shooters over the years has been admirable.  It’s a job that we don’t want to do, but because our native waterbirds suffer horrific injuries, someone has to help. We will continue to be out on the wetlands until recreational duck shooting is banned.  It should be a no-brainer for the Premier, when three out of four Victorians want duck shooting banned and only 0.4 per cent of Victorians are duck shooters.  It’s time for the Baillieu Government to end this barbaric activity once and for all,” Levy concluded.

For further information, please contact:

Laurie Levy
Campaign Director
Mobile: 0418 392 826

Video of incident available at:

Tuesday 13 August 2012


An experienced Coalition Against Duck Shooting rescuer, Tony Murphy, today appeared in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court charged with refusing to kill a wounded bird, which he had rescued on the final weekend of the 2011 Victorian duck shooting season. The bird had been shot and wounded and left on the wetland by a duck shooter who had not bothered to retrieve it.  Mr Murphy was represented by Daniel Beecher, Principal Lawyer at Phoenix Legal Solutions.

The Department of Primary Industries today dropped the charges.  In awarding costs Magistrate Gray ordered the Department to pay Murphy’s legal costs of  $8,687.52.   Magistrate Gray acknowledged that this was a test case.

Tony Murphy today said:  “I was originally fined for failing to kill a wounded bird on recovery.  But rescuers do not kill wounded birds.  Our job is to help them by getting urgent veterinary treatment.  So instead of paying the fine, I chose to argue my case in court.  Rescuers are like ambulance officers – our job is to help the innocent victims – not kill the patients.  Euthanizing a wounded bird is a decision that must be made by a qualified veterinarian, not by us.

“This was all about empathy.  Duck shooters cheer when birds are shot down, whereas rescuers relate to the pain and suffering native waterbirds are forced to endure.

“Rescuers were targeted by the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) on the final weekend of the 2011 duck shooting season under an operation code-named ‘Operation Bolte’.  Yet at the same time, hunters who started shooting too early and shot over their bag limits were ignored and not prosecuted.  The DSE and the DPI concentrated solely on duck rescuers, which resulted in many trumped-up charges, including mine. This was a blatant unsuccessful attempt to intimidate rescuers in order to keep them off the wetlands in 2012,” Murphy said.

“We also believe that the wildlife officers involved in ‘Operation Bolte’ had a serious conflict of interest.  These officers are themselves duck shooters and members of shooting organisations.  Since then, they have moved across to the DPI, which is now responsible for the management of duck shooting seasons.

“The bullying of DPI officers will not deter us.  As long as hunters are allowed to shoot our native waterbirds for fun, we will be there to assist the victims.

“It is difficult to understand how Premier Ted Baillieu, who has stated in the media that he is opposed to animal cruelty, and who we believe is normally a compassionate family man, can allow this unnecessary brutality towards native waterbirds to continue, simply to keep a dwindling number of duck shooters happy,” concluded Murphy.

Photo: Court victory, Laurie Levy, Campaign Director, Tony Murphy and lawyer Daniel Beecher

Government departments fail to suppress duck rescuers

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Following a six-day hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in March this year, five duck rescuers were today each acquitted of four charges out of five.  Each were found guilty of only one charge when rescuing waterbirds on wetlands near Kerang, in northern Victoria, during the final weekend of the 2011 duck shooting season.

Magistrate Mealy found the charges of ‘hindering’ proved against rescuers for operating noise producing equipment, being a whistle, in a manner likely to cause unreasonable inconvenience or nuisance to any person contrary to the Wildlife (SGR) Regulations 2004.  The five rescuers (Luke Milroy, Lucas Treloar, Linda Duckham, Penny Cameron and David Mould) were given good behaviour bonds without conviction.

Prosecution costs were sought by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI), but refused.  The Magistrate observed that the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) had not been even-handed in the laying of charges (with the DPI prosecuting).  He indicated that the Department appeared to hold rescuers responsible for the provision of vets at the wetlands, when the Department should be responsible for the welfare of wildlife.

Coalition Against Duck Shooting Campaign Director, Laurie Levy, today said: “Last year, DSE compliance officers planned a ‘sting’ that was code-named ‘Operation Bolte’ – after the late Victorian Premier, a keen duck shooter – with the aim of cracking down on rescuers in what can only be seen as a blatant attempt to accommodate their duck shooting mates.

“Most of these compliance officers, who are now all working in the newly established ‘Game Victoria’ within the Department of Primary Industries (DPI), are themselves known duck shooters.

“These officers have a serious conflict of interest which must be investigated by the Ombudsman’s office.”

“The charges against rescuers have resulted in an enormous waste of taxpayers’ money and court time, especially when Magistrates’ Courts throughout the state are clogged up and unable to hear important cases for months on end, and when the majority of Victorians oppose the recreational shooting of native waterbirds and want this activity stopped,”  Levy said.

For more information, please contact:
Laurie Levy
Campaign Director
Coalition Against Duck Shooting
Mobile: 0418 392 826


Tuesday 13 March 2012

Test case threatens the future of duck rescue

Six duck rescuers to challenge trumped up charges in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court today

Duck shooting wildlife compliance officers accused of serious conflict of interest and possible corruption issues

Six duck rescuers will appear in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court today charged with hindering and harassing duck shooters by blowing whistles, which the rescuers have always done, without charge, in an effort to warn birds away from the shooters’ guns.  The rescuers received these charges on the final weekend of the 2011 recreational duck shooting season in a targeted operation code-named ‘Operation Bolte’ (after the late Victorian premier, Sir Henry Bolte, who was a keen duck shooter).

In a separate case that is also being heard in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court today, one of the rescuers, Tony Murphy, is contesting another trumped up charge for failing to kill a wounded bird that he was taking for urgent veterinary care.

Campaign Director Laurie Levy today said: “Operation Bolte is part of a clamp down by the authorities which is intended to intimidate the rescuers to keep them off the wetlands and to put financial pressure on the anti-duck shooting campaign.  The sting was devised by Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) wildlife compliance officers who recently transferred across to a new game management unit, Game Victoria, within the Department of Primary Industries (DPI), under the authority of National Party Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh.  In a throwback to the Bolte era, Game Victoria is planning to promote as well as manage recreational duck shooting in the state.

“The wildlife compliance officers who devised the sting were not only duck shooters, but some were also office bearers of the shooting organisations, Field and Game Australia and the Sporting Shooters Association.  These officers have misused their positions to conspire against duck rescuers.  This not only represents a serious conflict of interest, but is a form of corruption that must be investigated by the soon to be established Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC),” Levy said.

Three rescuers, Luke Milroy, Lucus Treloar and David Mould, were arrested, charged and bailed to appear in court.  Three other rescuers, Penny Cameron and Linda Duckham and Tony Murphy were charged on summons. They were charged with harassing and hindering hunters for blowing whistles, in what can only be seen as a desperate attempt by the DPI to keep rescuers off the wetlands in the future.

This test case will commence four days before the opening of the 2012 duck shooting season and is expected to run until the week after the opening weekend, Levy said.  Rescuers will be represented in court by lawyer Daniel Beecher and barristers David Risstrom and Lachlan McConchie.

In a separate case in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court today, rescuer Tony Murphy is contesting a charge for not killing a wounded bird that he was carrying to shore.  “But rescuers do not kill wounded birds.  They seek urgent medical assistance for the innocent victims. This is a role rescuers have played on Victoria’s wetlands for the last 25 years.  On principle, Murphy will contest the charge,” Levy said.

For further information, please contact:  Laurie Levy, Campaign Director, Mob: 0418 392 826