Shots continue to fire

East Trentham Wildlife Shelter operators Helen Round and Manfred Zabinskas at Lake Bael Bael (David Nightingale).

Zoe Moffatt

Duck hunting will continue in Victoria, following the state government’s decision to reject a parliamentary inquiry recommendation for it to be banned.

The decision, which was handed down on January 29, has drawn an array of criticism throughout the state, including from wildlife rescuers and politicians.

Macedon Ranges resident, Northern Victoria MP and Animal Justice Party member Georgie Purcell has been outspoken on the issue.

Ms Purcell said the state government has ignored the key recommendation of its own inquiry and report, along with decades of campaigning and insurmountable and undeniable evidence.

“The government has ignored decades long evidence of native species decline in favour of something they described today as a ‘hobby’,” she said.

“I sat and listened, like every other committee member on that panel, to the horrifying accounts of shooter non-compliance, unacceptable wounding rates and environmental destruction.

“This is the greatest of all insults to the thousands of Victorians who took part in the process of submitting evidence. This decision is exactly why the community doesn’t trust politicians, and I don’t blame them.”

Ms Purcell said it’s a decision that will leave a shameful and embarrassing legacy.

“These changes acknowledge there are clear problems, yet they are letting a season proceed without them even in place.

“Not only that they have upped the duck kill by two birds a day, and extended the season by a month on last year, with the evidence in hand that this is guaranteed to drive up the wounding rate.”

East Trentham Wildlife Shelter co-operator Helen Round said the decision disgusts her, but it doesn’t surprise her.

“To know that thousands of birds are wounded and killed each for fun is a kick in the guts,” she said.

“We’re already traumatised and we provide a community service, it’s a direct slap in the face… [and] it’s affected our mental health.

“I’ve been a duck rescuer for 14 years…. and there’s no such thing as ethical duck hunting. Windmilling birds to death is horrific.”

The state government said it will accept seven of the select committee’s eight recommendations in full or in principle.

Outdoor Recreation Minister Steve Dimopoulos said the 2024 duck season will start on April 10 and end on June 5.

“Duck hunting is a legitimate activity- but more than that, it supports regional communities and economies,” he said.

“Our position has not changed and we’re supporting recreational duck and quail hunting to continue in a safe, sustainable and responsible way with minimal harm to our environment.”

Hunting start times will be at 8am for the entire season, and there will be a daily bag limit of six ducks per day, but the Blue-winged Shoveler and Hardhead cannot be hunted for the season.