Crippled ducks and orphaned ducklings are the ugly and unsurprising legacy of South Australia’s duck hunting season, which ends this Sunday.
(South Australia and Victoria are the only two states that still have duck and quail hunting seasons. The Victorian season ended on May 19.)
It is not yet know how many hunters registered to participate in South Australia’s season, with the figure revealed once the season closes. In the 2018 season, the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) issued 1841 duck open season hunting permits and 190 quail open season hunting permits.
RSPCA South Australia’s Animal Welfare Advocate, Dr Rebekah Eyers, said the lack of political appetite to end the unnecessary carnage in the state’s wetlands ignores public sentiment that is overwhelmingly in support of ending duck hunting in South Australia.
Members of SA’s voluntary Fauna Rescue organisation informed RSPCA about an adult Pacific Black duck found with a femur so badly fractured it had splintered. Xrays revealed shotgun pellets lodged in the bird’s muscles.
Renmark residents rescued the native waterbird after seeing it struggling on the ground during the Queen’s Birthday Weekend (June 8-10). A vet assessed its leg as too damaged to save, so it was amputated and the duck is recovering.
On Friday, June 7, another Fauna Rescue volunteer tried to rescue 13 Pacific Black ducklings, estimated (by their weight) to be about one day old. Rescuers managed to save 11 of the ducklings after reports the large group was wandering across busy Grand Junction Road in Northfield.
This year’s shortened season started four weeks later than last year in a bid to reduce the impact on the breeding populations. But this month’s rescue of the 11 ducklings suggests the impact is likely to have still been significant.
“It’s fair to assume that, during the SA hunting season (Mar to June) females with unweaned ducklings were being fired at,” Dr Eyers said.
“The obvious impact on breeding populations from this recreational activity is totally unacceptable, and ignores the science showing that for most species, duck numbers are already in long term decline.” (A recent United Nations report exposed Australia’s unprecedented species extinction rate.)
Describing duck hunting as a hangover from outdated attitudes, Dr Eyers encouraged regional areas located close to duck and quail hunting grounds to explore eco-tourism opportunities.
“Duck shooting is archaic and cruel, with up to 45% of ducks not being killed outright and many left to suffer excruciating pain and a slow death.
“In contrast, eco-tourism is about celebrating this wildlife, and more and more people are willing to pay to experience the beauty and tranquillity of these precious wetland habitats.”
An exhibition opens at The Joinery today to raise awareness of the need to value and protect our native waterbirds. The ‘Treasures not Targets’ exhibition will showcase native waterbird images taken by some of Australia’s best birdlife photographers. Entry is free.
Treasures not Targets – photographic exhibition
Thursday 27th June – Saturday 29th June
Open 10am to 6pm Thurs and Fri and 10am to 4pm Sat)
The Joinery – 101 Franklin Street, Adelaide