Duck shooting in South Australia: November 2023 update
Life in the air
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Life in the air
History tells us that the daily take allowed (called a bag limit) in South Australia was 12 ducks and 25 Stubble Quail, each form requiring separate shooters permits. Season commencing early to mid-February, end June for ducks and August for quail.
In the years 2015 to 2019 there were between 1,600 and 1,900 licensed duck shooters killing ducks in South Australia, between them accounting for an approximate 27,000 to 80,000 ducks, depending on the season. This number does not include wounding. The 2020 South Australian Duck shooting season commenced 28 March, ending 31 May. There were 904 duck shooters killing birds in South Australia that year with an allowed ‘take’ of 4 ducks per day.
In the 2020 South Australian Wetland and Waterfowl survey investigated 90 South Australian Wetlands. Survey results showed:
“Duck numbers were the third lowest on record, and about a quarter of the long-term average. Duck counts in the Riverland, Fleurieu and Coorong regions were all the fourth lowest on record. The game duck abundance in the South East region was the third lowest on record, with less than a quarter of the long- term average abundance counted”.
In 2021 the South Australian duck shooting season ran from 20 March, closing 27 June. Shooters could each ‘take’ 4 ducks per day. There was no quail shooting season in South Australia that year.
In that year 1,210 duck shooters held duck shooting permits in South Australia. The South Australian Government says that typically about one third of permits are held by shooters not resident in South Australia. We can therefore estimate that South Australia has around 800 shooters with duck shooting licenses.
In a period of COVID restrictions and border closures estimates published by the South Australian Government show that 12,500 ducks were killed (more would have been wounded and flown away to die). This number was composed of the following species:
Other species in the firing line that year were the Chestnut Teal and Mountain Duck. Off the kill list in 2021 were the Australasian Blue-winged Shoveler, Pink-eared Duck and Hardhead.
In 2022, South Australia held both, duck and quail shooting seasons. The duck season opened on 19 March, ending 26 June 2022. 1,127 duck shooting permits were issued in 2022, with 800 of those shooter resident in South Australia. Each shooter was allowed to ‘take’ 8 ducks per day, double the previous season. For quail, the first season since 2029, the season commenced 30 April, ending 31 July, with each shooter allowed to ‘take’ 20 Stubble Quail each day. Estimates published by the South Australian Government show that 22,500 ducks were killed (many more wounded) and around 12,000 quail were killed (again excluding wounded birds). The duck number was composed of the following species:
Other species in the firing line in 2022 were the Chestnut Teal, Mountain Duck, Pink-eared Duck and Hardhead.
In the 2022 South Australian Wetland and Waterfowl survey investigated 75 South Australian Wetlands. Survey results showed:
“Duck numbers were the second lowest since surveys began in 2003, around 20 per cent of the dataset average. The abundance of ducks in all regions were well below the long-term average. Around 3 per cent of the long-term average was recorded in the Coorong, 12 per cent in the South East and 29 per cent in the Fleurieu regions, while 73 per cent was recorded in the Murraylands. Species composition recorded in 2022 was dominated by ‘resident’ species (those species with a lower propensity to travel long distances to find suitable habitat), likely reflecting the dispersion of those ‘nomadic’ duck species (example Grey Teal) that readily move in response to inundation of new habitat on a continental-scale”.
Comments about dispersion are interesting and have implications about the population dynamics of nomadic species.
“The annual shooting of the Blue-winged Shoveler and the Hardhead was ‘sustainable’ in Victoria until these species of Australian Ducks were listed on Victoria’s threatened species list in 2021”. Peter Hylands
In 2023 the duck shooting season commenced on 18 March, ending 25 June 2023. Duck species in the firing line were:
As a rough estimate we can assume there were 1,200 licensed duck shooters and given the long season, another 25,000 ducks were killed.