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Recreational shooting of Australian birdlife in Victoria: 2023 how many died?

Life in the air

“In 2023, a small band of individuals were responsible for the death of 622,700 native Australian birds and the wounding of many more, and all of it in the name of family fun”. Peter Hylands

Peter Hylands

November 11, 2023

Victoria’s Game Management Authority has provided its grim statistics for ‘recreational’ duck and quail shooting for 2023.

  • Ducks killed – 319,900;
  • Active duck shooters – 14,092; and
  • Licensed duck shooters – 21,900.
  • Stubble Quail killed – 302,800;
  • Active quail shooters – 4,761; and
  • Licensed quail shooters – 26,000.

0.002 per cent of Victoria’s population was responsible for the enormous carnage of waterbirds in 2023.

0.0007 per cent of Victoria’s population was responsible for the enormous carnage of Stubble Quail in 2023.

“Compared to 1986, when we first started our campaign, 100,000 Victorian duck shooters could legally shoot two million native waterbirds on the opening weekend of the season - if they all shot their bag limit. The duck shooting season then continued on for another three months. In the early days duck shooters could also use semiautomatic or pump-action shotguns. At that time duck shooters in Victoria were pumping about 350 tonnes of lead shot into the Victorian wetlands each year and this toxic legacy remains today. Today, since the Port Arthur tragedy, semi autos are banned. And public opinion has reduced the number of Victorian duck shooters who make up less than 0.2 percent of the state's population”. Laurie Levy

Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting report that

“A recently discovered Game Management Authority paper indicates that aside from the tonnes of toxic lead entering our environment from hunting (quail legally and duck illegally), at least 2.2 million plastic shells and wads are blasted into the Victorian environment each year by duck shooters".

My assessment (November 2023) suggests the Victorian Government will have been responsible for enabling and promoting the killing of around one million protected Australian native animals, including birdlife and mammals, for recreation, mitigation or commercial exploitation in the full year 2023. This number will depend on the final outcome of the government's commercial exploitation of Kangaroo species.

Given the duration of the 2023 duck shooting season in Victoria, the daily bag limit and the number of licensed duck shooters in Victoria, the maximum number of ducks it would have been 'legal' to kill in Victoria in 2023 was 2,890.800.

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