The Australian NSW state government is reviewing its 1995 ban on bird shooting for sporting and recreation purposes. Tree of Compassion urges everyone to write to the NSW government to maintain the ban. There are so many reasons to keep the ban in place – from legislation, biodiversity, the importance of wetlands, the effects of duck hunting on the environment, the shooting of protected and threatened species, wounding and distress caused to ducks by shooting, shooting birds on rice, and alternatives to duck shooting. The following points illustrate the need to maintain the ban:
• Shooting ducks for recreational purposes is in contravention of the Prevention to Cruelty of Animals Act as it is clearly cruel. Many ducks are wounded rather than shot instantly. Wounding causes pain (including distress and suffering) and possibly crippling, which can result in prolonged chronic pain and distress and restricts a bird’s natural behaviour and life cycle.
• State, Commonwealth, and International legislation, policies, conventions and treaties require the NSW Government to carry out its activities and administration to maximise biodiversity and protect species and communities. Any reintroduction of Duck and Quail Open Season does not concur with these agreements.
• Reports are showing that increasingly large areas of NSW are being affected by salinity. Until an accurate understanding of the effects of salinity on the long term survival of waterfowl can be established no further impacts on populations of native wildlife should be permitted.
• Duck shooting increases the risks of weed infestation in wetlands. The risk of spreading exotic waterweeds is greatly increased in an area when there are large numbers of people moving through that area in a relatively short space of time.
• Duck open season encourages inappropriate behaviour, which is acknowledged by hunters themselves – “Louts, drunks and other undesirables have a habit of arriving ‘en masse’ at the easily found lakes.”
• The commonly held belief that hunting has had little effect on game species should be viewed with caution. Species such as the Pink-eared Duck are likely to have declined due to hunting.
• The abundance of many waterbird species is in decline. This is no doubt due to extensive changes in river management and the degradation of wetland ecosystems. Duck shooting would not reverse this trend.
• Duck shooting causes high wounding rates regardless of shooter competency. Some are badly crippled and die in minutes, hours or days. Others recover but may never fly again.
• The NSW Animal Welfare and Advisory Council found that the economic consequences of whether or not Duck and Quail Open Season was to continue in NSW were not significant at either the national level or at the local level. Duck hunting is not vitally important to rural NSW, as has been suggested by the duck hunting lobby.
• There are many highly profitable alternatives to duck shooting for regional NSW, such as nature based tourism. There is high demand from domestic and international tourists for nature based activities with tourists prepared to travel long distances to enjoy them.
• The hunting lobby claims that they are conservationists and do a great deal to preserve wetlands. Yet there is no evidence that duck hunters in any way are helping to conserve wetlands or protect duck species in NSW. Hunters more often argue that there are too many ducks.
• The NSW Animal Welfare Advisory Council found that the level of suffering, pain and cruelty associated with duck shooting is unreasonably high and that it is unnecessary and unjustifiable in circumstances where the activity is undertaken to satisfy an urge for ‘sport’.
• The results of the Morgan Research Poll show clearly that the majority (71.3%) of people in NSW do not approve of shooting native ducks for sport.
In summary, there appears to be no valid reason for lifting the ban. The original conditions that lead to the ban have not changed, and in fact the environmental parameters have worsened.
Tree of Compassion urges everyone to write to the NSW Government urging them to keep the ban on recreational duck shooting.