1985 & 1986
COMMENCEMENT & FIRST DUCK RESCUE
Because Victoria’s politicians refused to visit the wetlands to see the slaughter they had sanctioned, the illegally shot birds were laid out and displayed outside the Victorian Premier’s office on the following Monday morning to highlight the illegal shooting of protected and threatened species. This practise has continued ever since.
Between 1986 and 1989, Coalition Against Duck Shooting rescuers crossed the border to assist native waterbirds at Bool Lagoon in South Australia. Animal Liberation South Australia took over after 1989.
MINISTER CONSIDERS A BAN
Duck shooting in Victoria came close to being banned when Conservation Minister Joan Kirner moved to ban duck shooting, but only if the NSW government also implemented a ban. At that time Barrie Unsworth had become NSW Premier following Neville Wran’s resignation. After long deliberations, Unsworth decided against a ban as he was facing an election and while Neville Wran had been extremely popular, Unsworth was not. This resulted in the continuation of duck shooting in Victoria.
Conservation Minister Joan Kirner banned the use of airboats that the shooters sometimes used to scare off the water and towards the shooters’ guns.
NSW DUCK RESCUE
Levy was invited to NSW to discuss with a newly formed rescue team the strategy and tactics used in Victoria and to talk to new rescuers.
1989 & 1990 LAKE BULOKE
Approximately 400 rescuers challenged 10,000 duck shooters at Lake Buloke on the opening of these duck shooting seasons.
WATERFOWL IDENTIFICATION TEST
After CADS extensive media exposure of the slaughter of Australia’s rare and threatened Freckled ducks, a one-off Waterfowl Identification Test was introduced for shooters to pass before obtaining a game licence. However, Freckled ducks and other protected species continued to be illegally shot.
Victorian duck shooter numbers decline from around 100,000 in 1986 to approx. 60,000.
BANNED IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA
In 1990 the Conservation Council of WA invited Levy across to WA to help with arrangements for their first duck rescue campaign. Approximately six months later Premier Carmen Lawrence banned recreational duck shooting stating: “Our community has reached a stage of enlightenment where it can no longer accept the institutionalised killing of native birds for recreation”.
Her media release stated: “Duck shooting runs counter to the environmental sensitivity to which our community increasingly aspires.
“There is widespread opposition throughout the community to the cruelty and environmental damage caused by shooters. Evidence from previous seasons shows that injured ducks have been left to die, protected species have been shot and fragile wetlands have been polluted by lead and cartridges.”
LABOR STATE CONFERENCE
The Victorian Labor State Conference overwhelmingly voted to ban duck shooting.
LABOR COUNTRY CAUCUS IN BALLARAT
The Victorian Labor Country Caucus voted to ban duck shooting. But the ban was never implemented by Labor’s political wing. The Kennett Liberal Government then won the October 1992 election.
LAKE BULOKE FRECKLED DUCK SLAUGHTER
300 Freckled ducks were sighted at the northern end of Lake Buloke before the duck shooting season. Levy asked for the whole wetland to be closed to shooting knowing that when the guns went off the Freckled ducks would take fright and fly around the wetland and into the guns. This is precisely what happened as the Conservation Department only closed the northern end where the Freckled ducks had been seen. 272 illegally shot Freckled ducks were recovered by rescuers.
The Melbourne Age newspaper published the first of many editorials calling for duck shooting to be banned. Headed ‘Duck shooting must be outlawed’, the first line of the editorial stated “Duck shooting is not a sport, it is an obscenity”. The Age continues to print editorials calling for recreational duck shooting to be banned.
NEW POLITICAL LAWS TO STOP RESCUERS
Following the 1992 Victorian election, new Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett introduced Human Safety Regulations in an attempt to keep duck rescuers and the media off the water before 10am and after 5pm on the first two days of duck shooting seasons. For the remainder of the 3-month season this regulation did not apply.
CADS’ rescuers continue helping native waterbirds on the water in spite of the fines and court cases.
From 1993 Victoria’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC) repeatedly called for a ban on duck shooting because of cruelty.
LEAD SHOT BANNED FROM SA WETLANDS
Victorian duck rescuers travelled to Bool Lagoon in SA in 1986. Levy questioned National Parks about the dangers of lead shot and was told it wasn’t a problem. Three months later he received a phone call regarding an investigation into the deaths of Magpie geese, Black swans and Pacific black ducks at Bool Lagoon which revealed the birds had died from lead poisoning. Lead shot was banned at Bool Lagoon in 1987 and was completely banned from all SA wetlands in 1994.
BANNED IN NSW
NSW Premier Bob Carr banned recreational duck shooting because of the cruelty. This decision was based on recommendations from the NSW Government’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee.
The Victorian duck shooting season was scheduled to go ahead despite drought and low waterbird numbers. However, an illegally taped telephone conversation between two shooters resulted in a moratorium.
HIGH COURT CHALLENGE: Levy vs State of Victoria
LEAD SHOT BANNED IN VICTORIA
1988 & 1989: In Victoria, it was discovered that lead shot was a major problem following autopsies organised by the Conservation Dept. on illegally shot waterbirds which had been recovered by rescuers. In 1988, an x-ray by the Conservation Dept. showed a dead Black swan from Lake Boort had 200 lead pellets in its gizzard. In 1989 threatened Blue-billed ducks and Musk ducks had up to 80 lead pellets in their gizzards. In 1990 the government instigated a study into the lead problem on Victorian wetlands. The Conservation Dept. called for a phase-out of lead shot in 1993 but the shooting organisations stalled the ban until lead was finally banned in 2002. CADS was the peak campaign body working toward this outcome.
Despite the bans, tonnes of lead still remains in Victorian wetlands and unfortunately will continue killing birds for the next 100 years.
Because of drought, a moratorium on duck shooting was called in Victoria. The rescue team instead turned their attention to Moulting Lagoon in Tasmania.
2004 to 2008
During this period Levy and some Labor members spoke at 28 Labor branch meeting. 27 branches voted for a ban on duck shooting including former Premier Steve Bracks’ Williamstown branch.
BANNED IN QUEENSLAND
Queensland’s Labor Government banned recreational duck shooting on recommendations from the Queensland Government’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee. Premier Peter Beattie stated that “…this is not an appropriate activity in contemporary life in the smart state“.
ROY MORGAN RESEARCH POLL
Thanks to a grant from Voiceless, a professional Roy Morgan research poll of randomly selected city and country Victorians showed 75% wanted a permanent ban on recreational duck shooting. Once informed that the wounding rate is 1 in 4, that waterbird numbers had declined by 80% across eastern Australia since 1983 and that three states had already banned the activity, WA (1990), NSW (1995) and Queensland (2005), a huge 87% of Victorians said they wanted an end to recreational duck shooting. This was across all political parties.
Duck shooting was cancelled in Victoria in 2007 and 2008. The CADS’ rescue team instead travelled to Tasmania’s Moulting Lagoon both years.
FIELD & GAME AUSTRALIA WATER THEFT
LABOR’S SOCIALIST LEFT FACTION
Labor’s Socialist Left faction voted for a ban on duck shooting.
PETITION TO PARLIAMENT
In October, CADS and the RSPCA jointly presented a petition of over 30,000 signatures to the Victorian Parliament requesting a ban on recreational duck shooting.
A RESCUER IS SHOT
The RSPCA ran an advertisement in The Age newspaper titled ‘Victoria’s day of shame, 19 March 2011’ – the opening of the duck shooting season, and called on Victorians to help stop duck shooting. The RSPCA continued taking a high profile with full page advertisements in The Age every duck shooting season until after the Oct. 2016 Independent Review of the RSPCA Inspectorate.
BOX FLAT MASSACRE
LABOR’S CONSERVATION ENVIRONMENT & RESOURCES POLICY COMMITTEE
This Committee voted for a ban on duck shooting but it was never allowed. The second time it was voted on, the committee was closed down for some time in a bid to prevent the policy from going to State Conference.
FRECKLED DUCK SLAUGHTER
COMPLIANCE OFFICER’S KAYAK INCIDENT
ANIMALS AUSTRALIA’S SUPREME COURT CHALLENGE
Lake Elizabeth and Johnson Swamp near Kerang, part of the Ramsar wetlands of International importance, held numbers of threatened and protected species. Johnson Swamp was closed to shooting by the government until Easter, but Lake Elizabeth was left open. At 3pm on the day before the Saturday opening, the government backed down after a highly successful Supreme Court challenge mounted by Animals Australia, that closed Lake Elizabeth to shooting. Duck rescue was shifted from Kerang to Lake Burrumbeet near Ballarat. Lyn White, Campaign Director, Animals Australia, Liz Walker CEO RSPCA, and retiring Federal Labor MPs Kelvin Thomson and Melissa Park joined the opening weekend team. The RSPCA motorised veterinary vehicle and veterinarians were also present.
Johnson Swamp was scheduled to open for Easter, but it held endangered, threatened and migratory species. Animals Australia returned to the Supreme Court and succeeded once again in having Johnson Swamp closed for the remainder of the duck shooting season.
KOORANGIE MARSHES MASSACRE
Despite severe drought conditions across eastern Australia, very low bird numbers and devastating bushfires which destroyed 3 billion native animals, birds and reptiles, the Labor government called a modified recreational duck shooting season. The Game Management Authority estimated 1,300 shooters had been active on the opening weekend.
AJP MP ANDY MEDDICK
In March, Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick announced his bill to end duck shooting. The Bill was read and debated in Parliament in September, but not voted on.
LABOR REVIEW OF DUCK SHOOTING
At the November Labor State Conference, MPs Lizzie Blandthorn and Steve McGhie called for a review of duck shooting but Covid 19 took hold and the review never took place.
ILLEGAL SHOOTER BEHAVIOUR
The Victorian Labor government announces a Parliamentary Inquiry into recreational native bird hunting in Victoria.