Regional Victorian duck hunt opponents form new group to lobby for ban

A band of residents and business owners from rural towns across Victoria are demanding a ban on duck hunting, a move they say would protect the animals and safeguard tourism to their regions.  

Dozens of people with property and businesses backing on to popular hunting sites have joined new group Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting in the last fortnight.  

Spokeswoman and central Victorian resident Kerrie Allen said the members had unsuccessfully “tried independently to get some sense out our [their] MPs, water bodies and the Game Management Authority for years” and hoped their new coalition would strengthen calls to bar waterbird hunting.

“If we can pool our resources, we can all get together under one banner, we can all pool our voices,” she said. 

The group’s case for a moratorium on hunting was an environmental and economic one, Ms Allen said.

Ms Allen believed bird watching would attract more tourists to rural Victoria than bird hunting, and the shooters’ presence deterred other visitors during the annual, three-month season. 

Movement in and out of wetlands was restricted during hunting season.  

“We want peaceful, ethical, sustainable income year-on-year,” she said.

A 2013 agriculture department report estimated animal hunting was worth $16.5 million to the City of Greater Bendigo, and created as many as 90 full-time equivalent jobs. 

It also reported hunting was responsible 0.13 per cent of Victorian economic activity.

Asked whether a ban on duck hunting would be detrimental to their towns’ economies, Ms Allen said shooters did not leave their money behind. 

“We don't see hunters coming into the town, buying cases of wine or buying trinkets in the shops,” she said.  

Ms Allen’s comments come after a GMA decision to close several hunting sites for the duration of the 2017 season, which begins on Saturday, as well list the blue-winged shoveller duck as off-limits for hunters.

A bag limit of 10 ducks per day, per hunter, is also in effect. 

But the lobby group spokeswoman said the actions were “a token gesture and not nearly enough”.

“They need to be banning it,” Ms Allen said, arguing duck hunting was cruel and unnecessary. 

“I just don't think there's any need – ducks are not a pest.” 

An annual University of New South Wales study of wetlands in the east of the country found last year waterbird numbers were the lowest on record, with some game bird species numbers down “by an order of magnitude”.