Season of shame

What do Whistling Kites, spoonbills, ibis, Long-billed Corella, ducks (including Freckled Duck), cormorants, grebes, Cape Barren Geese, teals, avocet, Welcome Swallows and Black Swans have in common? They are all species that have been shot by duck hunters; it is sickening that yet another shameful duck hunting season is scheduled to begin in Victoria this weekend.

 

Royal Spoonbill, Australian White Ibis - Ki WormaldRoyal Spoonbill, Australian White Ibis

 

I took the above image just before sunset at a beautiful wetlands. The light would look similar first thing in the morning as hunters, dressed in their camouflage gear, line up with their shotguns aimed at our native waterbirds. This year’s shooting season goes for 12 weeks and hunters are permitted to shoot from before sunrise to after sunset each day.

– Spoonbills and ibis are not included on the list of species hunters are licensed to shoot.

 

Black Swan - Kim WormaldBlack Swan

 

Black Swans are elegant birds that grace our waterways. They are an Australian species that has been introduced to nearby countries. This swan has something above its bill that could be fishing related, if you know what it is please let me know. I contacted the local ranger and wildlife rescue group but neither could help as the bird is active. It was of concern at the time but in terms of the upcoming slaughter it seems inconsequential.

– Black Swans mate for life and are not included on the list of species hunters are licensed to shoot.

 

SerenityBlack Swan cygnet

 

Black Swan cygnets are particularly delightful; swans deserve to be protected from indiscriminate shooters.

 

Braeside_Park_134_Chestnut Teal, male and female

 

Chestnut Teal are small dabbling ducks whose wetland habitats have been impacted by draining and development. Male Chestnut Teal are strikingly coloured with iridescent green heads while the females look similar to Grey Teal.

– Chestnut Teal mate for life and are considered ‘game ducks’ that shooters are permitted to kill.

 

Cape Barren Goose - Kim WormaldCape Barren Goose

 

Cape Barren Geese are large geese that live on offshore islands across southern Australia. In recent decades they faced extinction but conservation strategies helped their numbers improve. They graze on grasses and succulents and the purple splodges on the bird in the image above show that it has been feeding on Berry Saltbush.

– Cape Barren Geese mate for life and are not included on the list of species hunters are licensed to shoot.

 

Freckled Duck - Kim WormaldFreckled Duck

 

Freckled Duck are unique to Australia and one of the rarest waterbirds in the world. Despite being an endangered species numerous Freckled Duck are shot and discarded by shooters every hunting season. During the 2014 season 33 Freckled Duck were killed and left to rot where they dropped at Lake Lonsdale near Stawell, a further four birds were treated by veterinarians. During the Box Flat massacre in 2013 over 100 Freckled Duck were killed near Boort and over 700 other ducks were shot and left to rot in the water. Despite an ongoing ‘investigation’ the government steadfastly refuses to release documents relating to the massacre and to date no one has been charged.

– Freckled Duck are Endangered and are not included on the list of species that hunters are permitted to shoot.

 

Grey Teal - Kim WormaldGrey Teal

 

Grey Teal are small ducks that feed by dabbling and by up-ending and foraging. They are found across Australia and can be distinguished from Chestnut Teal by their white throats.

– Grey Teal parents share the care of their ducklings and are considered ‘game ducks’ that shooters are permitted to kill.

 

Hanging out to dryLittle Pied Cormorant

 

This Little Pied Cormorant represents the cormorant species that are indiscriminately shot during the duck hunting season. They are the smallest of the five cormorant species found in Victoria; the other species are Pied Cormorant, Great Black Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant and Black-faced Cormorant.

– Cormorants are not included on the list of species that hunters are permitted to shoot.

 

 

Pink-eared Duck - Kim WormaldPink-eared Duck

 

Pink-eared Ducks are striking birds with distinctive markings, including the small pink patch behind their eyes which gives them their name. They have a delightful chirruping song which they sing while in flight and on the water. They are often shot and discarded by hunters as they contain little meat.

– Pink-eared ducks mate for life and are considered ‘game ducks’ that shooters are permitted to kill.

 

Hilltop corellaLong-billed Corella

 

– Long-billed Corellas are monogamous cockatoos that are not included on the list of species that hunters are permitted to shoot.

 

Pacific Black DuckPacific Black Duck

 

Pacific Black Ducks are widespread across Australia. They are shy in areas where they rarely see people but can become quite friendly in urban waterways.

– Pacific Black Ducks are predominantly vegetarian which apparently makes them taste better than some other species, they are considered ‘game ducks’ that shooters are permitted to kill.

 

Austlralian Wood DucklingsAustralian Wood Ducklings

 

Australian Wood Ducks are beautiful birds that lay their eggs in tree hollows and can often be seen shepherding their chicks from place to place in a long line with an adult at the front and the rear.

– Australian Wood Ducks mate for life and stay together all year, they are considered ‘game ducks’ that shooters are permitted to kill.

 

Australasian Grebe - Kim WormaldAustralasian Grebe

 

The grebe above represents the three grebe species that live in Victoria; the other species are the Hoary-headed Grebe and the Great Crested Grebe.

– Grebes are not included on the list of species that hunters are permitted to shoot.

 

Australian Shoveller - Kim WormaldAustralasian Shoveler

 

Australasian Shovelers are magnificent birds with striking colours. Their numbers have seriously depleted and they were removed from the shooters’ game list, surprisingly they were re-added to the list in 2006 despite their numbers still being of concern.

– Australasian Shovelers are considered ‘game ducks’ that shooters are permitted to kill.

 

Avocet - Kim WormaldRed-necked Avocet

 

Red-necked Avocet wade in shallow waters to feed. They are distinctive white birds with chestnut heads and long, curved bills.

– Red-necked Avocet are not included on the list of species that hunters are permitted to shoot.

 

 Hardhead_-_Kim_Wormald
Hardhead

 

Hardheads are true diving ducks that are found across Australia; their numbers have declined in areas where drainage and water diversion have taken place. The male has a distinctive white eye.

– Hardheads are considered ‘game ducks’ that shooters are permitted to kill.

 

Australian Shelduck - Kim WormaldAustralian Shelduck

 

Australian Shelduck are large, brightly coloured ducks that are found in south-eastern and south-western Australia.

– Australian Shelduck are considered ‘game ducks’ that shooters are permitted to kill.

 Welcome Swallow - Kim WormaldWelcome Swallow

 

Tiny Welcome Swallows can be caught in the spray of pellets that indiscriminately kill and injure birds other than the target bird.

– Welcome Swallows are not included on the list of species that hunters are permitted to shoot.

 

Whistling Kite - Kim WormaldWhistling Kite

 

The Whistling Kite above is a bird that is used for education and conservation purposes and the image was taken indoors, as always I chose not to use a flash. Whistling Kites are magnificent shaggy raptors that particularly like to forage around wetlands.

– Whistling Kites and other raptors  are not included on the list of species that hunters are permitted to shoot.

 

In order to be issued with a shooters’ licence applicants need to pay a Game Licence Fee, apart from 12 to 17 year olds who do not need to pay. I find it impossible to comprehend why 12 to 17 year olds are given guns and encouraged to glorify in the death of our native waterbirds.

Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford stated, “Anyone wishing to take part in the 2015 duck season must have passed a Waterfowl Identification Test to demonstrate that they can correctly identify which species are allowed to be hunted”. Unfortunately the test is flawed. The test has 22 questions with a choice of 4 multiple-choice answers; correct answers are worth 3 points.  There is also a ‘not sure, don’t shoot’ answer which is worth 1 point. A pass rate of 75% is required which falls to 64% as an applicant only needs to answer 14 questions correctly along with 8 ‘not sures’ in order to pass. This is horribly low when the consequence of incorrectly identifying species results in endangered or non-target species being injured or killed. But much of the ‘mis-identification’ seems more like wilful killing as it’s impossible to believe that anyone could accidentally shoot species featured in this post.

Native waterbirds across Australia are in serious trouble and have been enticed to refuge in wetlands that have been artificially filled prior to the Victorian duck shooting season.  Not only is duck hunting a sickening assault on our wildlife but there is definitive evidence, collected by the Coalition Against Duck Shooting, of rule breaches including:

  • bag loads of dead birds being discarded if more desirable species are shot
  • injured birds being left to die, suffering incorrect twisting of the neck and being shoved into bags while still alive
  • non game birds being injured and killed
  • physical and verbal assault of wildlife rescuers

Hundreds of thousands of native waterbirds will be killed in Victoria this season. If you would like duck hunting to be banned please look at the Coalition Against Duck Shooting website, add your name to the petition and write to the Victorian Premier at daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.au  You may also like to be inspired by Daniel’s Gregory’s song Lay Down Your Guns

My youngest daughter is heading out, as I write, to help support the wildlife rescuers. I hope that all goes well for her and the inspiring teams that are caring for our native waterbirds in the face of this year’s season of shame.

Happy petition signing and email writing, Kim

 

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34 comments to Season of shame

  • […]   Further information and images at Season of Shame, and Season of Shame Part 2 […]

  • Rachel

    What a great post! It’s so good of you to highlight things that people need to be aware of! What a disgusting past time!

  • Glenn

    Beautiful photos – the only way any bird should be shot.

    It’s bad enough that 6 species of native waterbirds are allowed to be shot (so called “game” species – a weasel word if ever I heard one – not a game for them), but so many others, nominally protected, are killed and injured because the shooters can’t even shoot straight, and no-one is ever brought to account for it. It’s hard to believe anyone could mistake a Swan or Whistling Kite for a duck, but then I doubt the shooters care that much as they know they won’t get caught. Also I know they use shotguns, which scatter their shot all over the place, so it’s likely to hit more than one bird at a time.

    I’ve written to the Premier, Minister for Agriculture and local member, signed petitions etc. But I can’t see any of it doing any good now that we have two representatives from the “Kill anything that moves” party – AKA Shooters an Fishers – in the upper house through the rigging of party ballot preferences.

    Keep up the good work!

    • lirralirra

      Thanks for your comment Glenn and for the effort you’ve made to have duck shooting banned in Victoria. It is sad that our system of voting gives seats to parties who have received a minimal number of direct votes, that is something else that needs reform. Don’t despair about the effectiveness of protesting against duck shooting (though I totally understand and feel the same frustration), in the words of Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

      From my daughter’s experience in Kerang we can add coots and an endangered Blue-billed Duck to the shameful tally.

  • Karen Pearson

    Well written and I, as a former NSW rescuer during duck shooting season, can absolutely vouch for the indiscriminate, cruel and destructive behaviour that is pathetically disguised as a recreation. It is sickening. Kudos to your daughter. It is not an easy task but thankfully there are people out to try and right the wrong. Best wishes.

    • lirralirra

      Good on you Karen for being a rescuer in NSW. It’s great that your government banned it and I hope that our government has the strength and decency to follow suit. Thank you for your comment.

  • Susan

    Really well written, Kim. Have shared it to my FB page and about to sign the petition. Particularly awful that so birds of a wide range of species are injured or killed and that such young people are a part of it.

    • lirralirra

      Thank you for sharing the post Susan, I appreciate that on behalf of the birds. I agree about involving such young children, it’s like they’re grooming new advocates for their archaic ‘sport’.

  • Elizabeth Shaw

    Great summary of birds killed by shooting, legally and illegally. I’ve seen the mess shooters leave behind during duck shooting season. It’s appalling. Feathers and wings left everywhere., not to mention rubbish and damage to the wetlands with cars driven everywhere and people tramping through bush, water edges and in the water. The laws are not working. Some shooters do follow the laws, but way too many don’t. There is no need for any ducks to be killed, very few people need them for survival.

  • Kim I like the way YOU shoot waterfowl the best!!!! Lovely images and I love that you identify them for those of us not familiar with most of them.

  • I really, really don’t understand the sport in shooting/killing/maiming things. And this game is a very, very one-sided game.
    An obscenity.
    Thank you for this heart rending post.

    • lirralirra

      It is incomprehensible EC and very much a one-side ‘game’. I can’t understand how anyone can enjoying killing such gentle creatures.

  • Margot Capuano

    A brilliant post Kim, with your amazing photography showing these beautiful birds and the information relating to how shooters obtain permission to continue their murderous practice in this state.

  • Jenny Skewes

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Thank you Kim for showing everyone how beautiful these vulnerable birds are. It is outrageous that “hunters” aka gun-happy hoons, are allowed to continue with this destructive activity.

    • lirralirra

      It is outrageous Jenny and so hard to believe that our government promotes gun violence in such a sickening way. Thank you for your comment.

  • Leanne

    I couldn’t find the petition on that link. I’ll google search it. I’ve written to dan Andrews. Hopefully he sees sense and follows the lead of other States labor governments.

    • lirralirra

      Did you find the petition? If so, could you send me a direct link. Please get Dan Andrews to follow up with your specific points if you also get one of the generic replies that could be sent to supporters or opponents of the Season of Shame.

  • Leanne

    Very moving and informative post. I hope everyone in Australia gets to read it

  • Sue Saliba

    Oh, Kim – this is so distressing but I’m so glad you have put up this incredibly important post (with its beautiful images). Thank you for the information. I have just called the Agriculture Minister’s office and sent her an email (I asked if, for one thing, she’d be attending what she obviously must think is an enjoyable sporting event at first light and requested she get back to me with her impressions). I’ve also sent Daniel Andrews a polite (but forceful) email. I’ll certainly sign the petition and do everything I can. I’ll be thinking of your beautiful and very brave daughter – the world needs more people like her! And I’m thinking of going out to help myself after this weekend if it’s not too late. Thank you lovely Kim xxx

    • lirralirra

      What a great idea to ask if the Agriculture Minister would be attending! Back in January I invited her to visit a wetland with me and watch as the birds begin their days but she didn’t reply. When you get a reply from Daniel Andrews I’m guessing it will be the same generic reply that I’ve been getting, a reply which could be sent to hunters as well as protesters, I keep writing back asking for him to address my specific concerns. It’s frustrating. Please let me know what you decide about the wetlands, maybe we could go together xo

  • Alison Moore

    Well done Kim on bringing this shameful ‘sport’ to our notice. We will be signing the petition and forwarding to all friends to do likewise.

    • lirralirra

      Thank you for signing the petition and forwarding it to friends, I really appreciate that and hope you were able to find the petition (please let me know if you couldn’t find it).

  • Tamsin

    Disgusting and completely unnecessary. Excellent post! Hopefully by March next year Victoria will be looking back on this horrible ‘sport’ with shame

  • Alyssa

    A wonderful post and a homage to the unique, amazing and beautiful birds that deserve so much better from our government.

  • jacob

    Kim, a sad but very much needed post. Thank you. I found your site a while ago and look forward to it each week. Will be signing that petition!

    • lirralirra

      It’s good to hear from you Jacob and I’m glad you enjoy lirralirra. I hope you were able to find the petition, Leanne (comment above) said it had gone on the missing list. Please let me know if you had trouble finding it, thank you!

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