The following letters to the editor are in response to this story published by The Courier, where advocates against duck shooting were arguing against the planned duck hunting season.
Once again irresponsible shooters and unnecessary suffering is being permitted by the state government that has required citizens to stay at home - unless absolutely necessary.
Shooting and killing our bird life is a shameful thing, -yet somehow these shooters are being allowed to go out and shoot at a time when not only is it entirely irresponsible because of conservation concerns, but at a time of community lockdown due to a pandemic. They are being given special permission? Why oh why are these shooters treated so differently?
Ban the senseless killing once and for all. If you want moving target practice, go to a licensed shooting range.
Gail Nowaski, Buninyong.
With the extensive reporting of the bushfire carnage it was made patently obvious that suffering and death affects human and nonhuman animals equally except in respect of numbers where wildlife loss was catastrophic. It was with great relief l watched Victoria's chief medical officer say that all hunting and fishing was banned because of the pandemic.
Taking into account the implications of travelling to the killing fields and the alarming drop in waterbird numbers this announcement was both sensible and showed a moral compass pointing in the right direction. So what is the case with duck shooting?
No hunting means precisely that and rangers and police need to be deployed to wetlands to enforce this as evidence over the decades has shown these shooters to be entirely callous and indifferent to the agony inflicted on targeted birds and countless threatened species .Buying a number of rural votes in the face of devastation to our wildlife and birds is both disgraceful and sheer savagery.
Irina De Loche, Ballarat.
We have given up so much with COVID-19 but it seems killing animals for pleasure is now considered "essential" as duck hunting is still on the agenda.
What will it take to make us realise that we need to work with our environment for the health of the planet and ultimately our own welfare.
Walkers Lake is a small waterbody in our Landcare area and the only lake of the Avon Plains Lakes that holds water. It is a small oasis in an environment that lacks dams and lakes and whose river, the Richardson, is now reduced to a series of small waterholes.
The data tells us that the number of waterbirds is in serious decline and this is endorsed by our own bird surveys conducted at the lake. This scenario is evident in wetlands all over Victoria.
A large portion of the Avon Plains Banyena Landcare Group's time, resources and energy are devoted to protecting and enhancing the lake as a refuge and breeding ground for water birds. It seems counter-intuitive to then make the lake a target for those that want to kill the birds that we are trying to protect.
We urge the Victorian Government to heed the science and stop the slaughter of our native waterbirds. The price Victorians and Australians are paying for the pleasures of a diminishing number of hunters is scandalous.
Prue McAllister, Banyena.
I understand that with pandemic around that people would see getting a food source from the wild would be more isolating than going to the shops, but when others go beyond the rules and get excessive with their guns behind the fence of private property, I see things can be abused.
Where I live, a storage depot about 5 km away, I hear multiple shots now and then during the season. Given last year I understand the limits on ducks was low, the amount of gun fire in a 5 minute period was repetitive and rapid. With binoculars in hand I could only make out 4 utes just behind the grain pits. My guess is that they would have exceeded their quota beyond comparison. Who knows what other species was shot down during the rapid firing. It is not pest reduction as the grain is covered. It is mates invited over for a hunt on the property. Oh and I shan't forget about the Quail hunting fence jumping that is heard often too.
Tes Camron, Streatham.
The more serious virus is the one that drives some 'he-men' to enjoy blasting small animals to bits, breaking their necks and pretending that it's recreation.
It's an example of the bigger global problem. Real men have more brains, and compassion.
Merv Ford, Ballarat East.
It beggars belief that this slaughter of our native bird life is allowed to continue. The majority of Victorians want it to end. Why does our government not listen?
Jenni James, Casterton.
It is difficult to understand where the Game Management Authority obtains its information in relation to duck numbers and the impact of the summer bushfires on waterfowl.
Professor Richard Kingsford has been studying waterbird numbers across eastern Australia for several decades and he has stated that all waterbirds, including ducks, are at their lowest population levels on record.
Researchers looking at the impact of the bushfires predict a huge decline in all aquatic fauna, ducks included, as a result of riparian vegetation loss, siltation and toxic runoff from fire retardants.
Yet despite all this scientific research and data- gathering, the Game Management Authority claims there are still enough waterfowl to justify a killing season.
Their claims are simply not true.
Trevor Pescott, Belmont.
Killing animals is animal cruelty. It is unnecessary in present time with supermarkets full of food. 'Hunters' not hunters kill for the thrill and fun of it. I find this is disturbing. We bring our children up to be kind to animals. It's not a sport, ducks have no defence or protection.
The wetlands and native water birds should be enjoyed by families and nature lovers all year round. Shooting on private property cannot be properly supervised and monitored, leaving protected species and number of birds vulnerable. Also the number of birds killed can't be supervised.
Jacki Jacka, East Geelong.
Just a short note to express my frustration as I believe that shooting for mere sport is a sin at the sight of God, and I'm against violence, this is appalling in all its words.. we lost 1,2 billion of our native animals and hunters want to kill more? These people are 'hungry' for bloodshed, this is so wrong, please can you help us to stop this insane 'sport'? It's absolutely disgusting.
Carlos Arenas, West Melbourne.
I am horrified that the Victorian State government will subject our already endangered beautiful waterfowl to yet another terrifying season of duck shooting. As if bushfires, climate change and loss of habitat weren't enough. It's time to end this barbaric practice, just like other forward-thinking states have already done. Waterfowl numbers have plummeted over the last three decades. Enough!
Leah Kaminsky, East Brighton.
With reference to your article titled "Bird advocates say restrictions on hunting mean those flouting laws can't be policed" I agree wholeheartedly.
The 2020 duck shooting season should have been cancelled immediately once restrictions started being placed on us due to COVID-19.
We all know that duck shooters have no regard for ducks, the environment and safety so imagine if they were permitted to go shooting during this time? When they ARE monitored their actions are already villainous enough.
Duck shooting, in fact, should have been banned years ago. It has no place in a civilised society.
Katrina Larsen, Melbourne.
It's despicable to once again see the Victorian government treating duck and quail shooters as protected species. They couldn't care less if shooters flout the law. We have seen them flout the law countless times in front of the authorities so it will be a free for all on private property, just like the Box Flat Massacre in 2013.
Even if the authorities are getting around to private properties that means more individuals travelling to rural areas and potentially spreading the virus. The reality is that there is no way duck and quail shooters can be policed and any attempt to do so is endangering the lives of those in rural areas. The government needs to step up and ban this disgusting assault on our native wildlife immediately.
Alyssa Wormald, Bayswater.
It seems that despite all the fine sounding phrases about our needing to care for this land better following the summer's fire-holocaust, and the numbing scale of wildlife lost, that we don't really mean it after all.
The killing of native water birds conducted under the rubric "recreation" means, to me, that no change in our thinking and feeling has taken place. It wouldn't matter if "duck season" was for only one day, or even a single hour. Our assent to it says all that ever needs to be said.
Lawrence Pope, Carlton North.
In our current socially-restrictive reality the decision by the Andrew's government to allow this year's "duck season" to go ahead is staggering, especially in the light of declining native bird numbers due to the environmental effects of fire and drought.
Like most Victorians I am willingly subject to conditions where I cannot meet with adult children, spend time with grandchildren or picnic in the park with friends in the interest of public safety.
By contrast the recklessness of allowing shooters to gather and camp in unknown numbers across the State, in circumstances that preclude monitoring or control, simply to indulge their "sport" of killing defenceless native birds testifies to the extent the Andrews' government is beholden to the gun lobby and calls into question the credibility of other government directives to combat coronavirus through social distancing.
Rheya Linden, Carlton North.
Ducks deserve compassion. The ancient Jews believed mammals experience compassion, but, taking a leaf from Karen Armstrong's book, we can extend the idea to ducks, who are great parents.
This upcoming maybe-we-will, maybe-we-won't duck killing time is a great opportunity for us Victorians to reflect on what sort of society we want. A return to might is right? Which is essentially what it is when a 100kg man takes on a three kilo water bird. Or are we interested in integrating ourselves to a whole new level of care that this current virus is forcing us to be aware of?
Those aware of Laloux teal know what I mean: it's time to become happy and whole, hearty and healthy.
Dead ducks don't do it, not for us, not anymore.
Michael Phillips, Hastings.
Our wildlife in general are under enormous pressure as a result of unpredictable and exaggerated weather conditions, in turn a result of the climate emergency.
Droughts and bushfires have decimated wildlife and vast tracts of habitat, putting enormous pressure on the surviving birds which in turn causes imbalance in ecosystems.
We must remember that our wetlands and other habitat for ducks and quails is also habitat for migrating birds. Our responsibility to care for our country extends to caring for the wildlife of other countries too.
Right now we are enduring COVID-19 restrictions - how can hunting be an essential service?
I have witnessed Game Management blatantly ignore shooters who break the law but instead target duck rescuers. Self-regulation never works and is all too evident in this case.
Replacing shooting with ecotourism will be far more financially beneficial and will allow the local population to enjoy a peaceful existence, free from the noise and dangers associated with shooting.
It should also be noted that, unbelievably, there is no alcohol restriction for shooters - many of them are clearly not sober by mid-morning.
87% of the population (according to The Australian Institute research completed in 2012) want duck shooting banned. Shooters make up less than 0.5% of the population. Why does this tiny minority hold so much power over the government?
Rosemary Lavin, Ferntree Gully.