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Signs of neglect

Life in oceans, rivers and seas

“In February 2024, we visited the Kerang Wetlands, an area of 93,720 hectares. We have come to know these lakes and swamps well and I suspect our next visit will only be a few weeks away and while duck and quail shooting is taking place”.

Peter and Andrea Hylands

February 6, 2024

There is now little evidence of the presence of Australian mammal species and none are listed in the fact sheets and strategic documents for the site we have seen. In contrast the Kerang Wetlands provide important feeding and nesting habitat for more than 50 waterbird species and 76 waterbird species have been recorded at the Ramsar Site. The birdlife remains spectacular and that adds to the sadness of what is about to be done here.

Lake Cullen Ramsar Site: Sign on entrance gate describes the economic damage in locking up important public lands for the benefit of those who kill birdlife for recreation


“Duck hunting is a legitimate activity – but more than that, it supports regional communities and economies”. Steve Dimopoulos, Victorian Government Environment Minister

We would estimate that 320,000 ducks and a similar number of Stubble Quail (a similar bird to the critically endangered Plains Wanderer which shares its habitat) to be killed here and across other Ramsar Sites and wetlands in the state. Wounding rates will as always continue to be high.

“Supporting eight Ramsar wetland types, the Site comprises 23 named lakes, marshes and swamps, which vary in area, depth and salinity, on the lower reaches of the Avoca and Loddon Rivers and the Pyramid Creek near the town of Kerang. It has long been influenced by the Torrumbarry Irrigation System, which was built to store water in 1923, some six decades before the wetlands were designated as a Ramsar Site”. Ramsar

“It is particularly depressing to think that in a few weeks, shooters will be devastating bird populations in these, as described by the Victorian Government, internationally important wetlands. The contempt shown for these places is further described by signs describing these places as game reserves and never a mention, that these wetlands, are actually Ramsar Sites. I have raised this issue of signage and information with the Victorian Government on numerous occasions over a very long period and nothing has been done. Almost every sign we saw has bullet holes or is damaged by shot”. Peter Hylands

“The area is of great importance to a great abundance and range of waterbirds. Over 50 species have been recorded breeding within the Site, such as Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca) and Straw-necked Ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis). Among threatened species found are the nationally critically endangered Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea), the globally endangered Australian Bittern”. Ramsar

“Several of these species are considered threatened at the international, national or state level and/or are listed on international migratory bird agreements (Japan-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (JAMBA), China-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (CAMBA) and Republic of Korea-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (ROKAMBA)) or the Bonn Convention”. Victorian Government

Use of 1080 poison on Ramsar sites in Victoria

In responding to our comments regarding the use of 1080 poison at Victoria’s Ramsar sites, the state’s Agriculture Minister responds:

“Specific actions that 1080 users must take to manage risks associated with 1080 use include notifying neighbours, placing warning signage, adhering to restrictions surrounding the placement of baits and keeping accurate bait use records. Ground baits for fox and wild dog control must be buried to limit non-target uptake and baits must not be placed within 20 metres of permanent or flowing bodies of water”. The Hon. Ros Spence MP Minister for Agriculture to Peter Hylands, March 2024

I would make the point that it is not acceptable to use 1080 poison at Ramsar sites, it is near impossible to limit the poisoning of ‘non-target species’. After an animal is poisoned by 1080, its carcass too is poisonous, and will kill non-target species as they feed on the carcass. While suggested in the regulations, collecting untaken baits and poisonous animal remains are not legal requirements in Victoria.

We should also note that the Victorian Government has conducted extensive aerial 1080 baiting drops (baits dropped from helicopters etc) in Gippsland and the North East of Victoria. This kind of baiting is indiscriminate and has an impact on the remotest wildlife populations which might otherwise be safe from human harm.

The use of 1080 is banned in most countries around the world, including the US since the early 1970s.

In an appalling circle of Australian wildlife abuse, Kangaroo meat is used as a vector for 1080 poison.

A shocking discovery: On our second visit to the Kerang Ramsar Wetlands in 2024 (early March) we discovered that 1080 poison had been laid across all the Ramsar Sites we visited. There were warnings to dog owners and a bird of prey hovered above this sign. The chances are that this magnificent bird will be dead in a few days time

Not shooting them might be a start

On the Kerang Wetlands:

“Some individual threatened species may also require targeted intervention, beyond actions to manage landscape-scale threats, to improve their future prospects”. Victorian Government