Dwindling duck numbers 'demand hunting ban'

The dwindling number of ducks in Australia bolsters the argument for a ban on hunting the birds in Victoria, leading advocates say.

Wildlife and animal advocacy organisations joined forces on Wednesday to renew calls for a ban on duck hunting in the state, pointing to data from the 2023 Eastern Australian Waterbird Aerial Survey.

The survey revealed numbers for most game species of duck in 2023 were well above long-term averages after last year's record breeding season.

However, five out of eight duck game species continued to show "significant long-term declines", compared with six out of eight of the species showing a decline in 2022.

The data also showed Australian waterbirds were deteriorating in terms of overall numbers, the number of species breeding and available habitat.

The survey noted long-term trends were more reliable for predicting duck populations than year-to-year fluctuations in numbers.

Lake Connewarre State Game Reserve, in Melbourne.
A survey shows five out of eight duck game species continue to show long-term population declines.

RSPCA Victoria chief executive Liz Walker said the survey only added to evidence in support of a duck hunting ban in the state, and it was about time the government finally implemented one.

An upper house committee in August this year tabled a report to state parliament calling for recreational duck hunting to be banned across all Victorian public and private land from 2024.

“We know that many ducks are wounded and left to suffer during hunting season, and the release of this latest survey data highlights the fact that duck hunting will put additional pressure on species that are already threatened by global warming," Dr Walker said on Wednesday.

The RSPCA was joined by BirdLife Australia, Animals Australia and Wildlife Victoria in renewing calls for a ban off the back of the survey.

Wildlife Victoria chief executive Lisa Palma said her organisation's veterinary triage unit assessed 73 native waterbirds found abandoned in violation of regulations in the first week of this year's duck hunting season.

Of the 73 ducks, eight were threatened species and six were non-game species, she said.

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