PRESS RELEASE: Victoria unleashes duck shooters as world celebrates wetlands

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PRESS RELEASE: By ANIMALS AUSTRALIA On FEB 2, 2017

VICTORIA UNLEASHES DUCK SHOOTERS AS WORLD CELEBRATES WETLANDS

Victoria's internationally-recognised wetlands are being celebrated today, shortly after the State government announced it would allow recreational duck shooting in several areas marked by the United Nations as critical to conservation.

The UN's annual World Wetlands Day seeks to raise awareness of the importance of selected sites worldwide, including Victoria's Gippsland Lakes region, Port Phillip and Bellarine Peninsula, Kerang Waters and Lake Albacutya.  

The Victorian sites are considered 'of international importance' under the decades-old Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, a status granted only to waterways that meet six criteria, three of which have to do with the presence of ducks and other water birds.

"The Victorian government clearly understands the significance of the state's waterways in conserving native bird species as it artificially fills major breeding areas when water levels are down," said Animals Australia Executive Director Glenys Oogjes.

"But to then allow thousands of unskilled hunters to kill ten native waterbirds each a day for 90 days – shows that this state has little regard for its own waterways, even while the rest of the world honours them," Ms Oogjes said.

Animals Australia expressed concern when the 2017 hunting season was announced last month, as 2016 saw the lowest numbers of waterbirds on record due to extremely dry conditions.

A wet year has allowed some breeding for the first time in several years – but allowing hunters to kill these young waterbirds will threaten any recuperation of these rapidly dwindling waterbird populations.

Victoria's world-listed waterways are also crucial for numerous species of protected birds that hunters frequently shoot by mistake.

"Hunters are only required to pass species recognition tests once in their lifetime, and they are not required to demonstrate any shooting skills before getting a license to kill. They often shoot protected and threatened bird species, and routinely wound and maim both 'game' and protected waterbirds during the 3 month-long open season," said Ms Oogjes.
Lake Albacutya has been recorded as supporting up to 5 per cent of the national threatened Freckled Duck population, while

Lake Connewarre is home to 20,000 water birds spanning 135 species, according the Ramsar Convention.

"Every year, our rescuers find dead or injured Freckled Ducks, swans, red-necked avocets and other protected birds, and Game Management Authority compliance officers are too thin on the ground to stop it," said the Coalition Against Duck Shooting's Campaign Director, Laurie Levy.

This year, the GMA even asked rescuers from CADS to help stop unlawful behaviour by reporting shooters they witnessed harming protected species.

"We celebrate our magnificent Ramsar wetlands on one day of the year, and then for three months, we allow shooters to apply their brutal trade and desecrate them," Mr Levy said.

CADS and Animals Australia have called on the government to cancel duck hunting season.

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Available for interview
Glenys Oogjes
Executive Director

Media Contact
Lisa Zilberpriver
0447 011 409

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