7 things you didn’t know about duck shooting in SA – when ‘protected’ birds can be legally shot

March 28, 2018

It happens every year: as dawn breaks over the peaceful surrounds of certain South Australian waterways, gunfire suddenly rings out and innocent birds begin a desperate fight for their lives. In the so-called ‘sport’ of duck shooting, one party has fun and the other dies – often slowly.

Many South Australians remain unaware that duck shooting is still legal in our state. Here’s our list of the top 7 things you didn’t know about duck shooting – and why this ‘sport’ must end now.

1. ‘Protected’ birds can be shot for sport in South Australia.

At least two million migratory waterbirds visit Australian wetlands each year, representing at least 36 different species. Despite being “protected” (a species of animal which it is forbidden by law to harm or destroy), certain duck and quail species can be hunted during a designated season.

For five months of every year (from February to June), shooters can obtain permits from the State Government to shoot native waterbirds living on South Australian game reserves. This season only two of the ten game reserves (Bool Lagoon and Bucks Lake) are closed to shooters.

2. 40% of waterbirds are wounded, not killed outright, by shotgun pellets.

Duck shooting is currently legal in South Australia and Victoria. Both those for and against the shooting of native waterbirds agree that a percentage of birds (up to 40%, according to some studies) will be injured rather than killed outright. Anecdotally, it appears that most of the birds shot are not eaten, but simply shot for entertainment.

RSPCA South Australia opposes this recreational activity because the shotguns used to shoot at birds spray pellets, and never result in a 100% kill rate. Injured birds that hunters don’t retrieve and humanely kill inevitably face a slow, painful death.

3. Little to no monitoring exists to ensure threatened species aren’t shot.

No mandatory requirement exists for shooters to report to the State Government the number of birds they kill and/or injure. And South Australian duck shooters don’t have to retrieve the ducks they have shot before continuing to shoot others.

National Park rangers have the task of monitoring shooters during the SA duck shooting season. However, they are not present at all shooting locations when shooters are in action – especially as much of the shooting in SA takes place on private land, where no monitoring at all is required.

4. Eight native species are legally under fire this shooting season.

Shooters can take aim at eight different native waterbird species. But the blue-winged shoveler is not allowed to be shot during the current season because “waterfowl surveys undertaken across South Australia indicate that the population trends for this species does not enable sustainable hunting in 2018” (from South Australia’s Department for Environment and Water website). 

Native waterbird population studies like this are primarily done to ensure hunting does not reduce numbers to a critical level. Hence, the removal of the blue winged shoveler from the list of species that can be hunted in South Australia.

5. Shooters only need to pass one test of ability to recognise different species before opening fire.

In an effort to ensure shooters only fire at the eight permitted species they are required to pass a once-only Waterfowl Identification Test. A minimum of 75% correct answers constitutes a pass.

The Waterfowl Identification Test involves viewing images of different duck species on a TV screen for five seconds and then correctly identifying the species within 20 seconds. It is debatable whether this experience compares to the reality of identifying the species of a flying bird through a shotgun scope.

6. Duck shooting laws are ‘impossible’ to enforce.

A recent government commissioned report on the Game Management Authority (GMA) in Victoria found that duck shooting is poorly regulated in Victoria, and hunting laws are impossible to effectively enforce.

It also found that the GMA’s relationship with pro-hunting organisations is “too comfortable”. (Pegusus Economics Report 2017)

7. Three states have banned duck shooting – it’s South Australia’s turn.

Three Australian states – New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland – have already banned duck shooting. At the time of introducing the Queensland ban in 2005, then-premier Peter Beatty said: “This is not an appropriate activity in contemporary life in the Smart State.”

But calls for a ban on shooting in South Australia have so far fallen on deaf ears. Now that you understand the tragedy of duck shooting, please join us in demanding an end to the legal shooting and maiming of waterbirds. Learn more here.

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21 thoughts on “7 things you didn’t know about duck shooting in SA – when ‘protected’ birds can be legally shot”

  1. Marina McLaglen

    Ban duck shooting

  2. Cassandra Elson

    Surely you can shoot at fake targets rather than live ducks

  3. Jade

    Had to go through 2 pages to finally reach where I could help take action. Please put the direct link to take action on first page or people get put off.

  4. Pat Easom

    Why would anyone want to kill or injure another living being for sport?

  5. Cherie Nagy

    Just revenue raising for the Government they have no morals, as long as they receive money it will not be banned. Only way is to embarrass politicians publicly, they don’t see the result of these actions, maybe take one of these poor birds for them to see. The old saying “out of sight out of mind” applies here

  6. Susan Callaghan

    I can’t understand the need to kill animals or birds for sport. Surely there are other ways to practice their sport without killing or maiming anything.

  7. Rosalie

    Thank you for renewing the RSPCA SA effort to ban duck shooting. I have observed the last 3 killing seasons from my home and it is horrific for all the wildlife …and families on adjacent properties

  8. Alison Mitchell

    I will NEVER understand how anyone can get enjoyment out of killing. Ban this atrocious,so called sport.

  9. Sue

    BAN duck shooting!

  10. Rosie Erasmus

    Absolutely dumbstruck that this can be legal and that there are humans out there who consider this sport. I simply can’t understand people who think that harming and killing creatures can be enjoyment. BAN DUCK SHOOTING and any other animal shooting for sport

  11. Julie Ross-Spooner

    Pity this situation is not a cartoon, where the ducks could shoot back !
    What can we do to help stop this senseless slaughter.?
    What is WRONG with these people?

  12. Lesley Finlayson

    I support banning duck shooting. I thought it was already in place.

  13. Michele Buring

    Dangerous psychopathy – animal cruelty is vile enough – it is also the sign of a disgusting mentality that commits such violence against anyone at all including their own family. This is well-documented fact – for example, areas with slaughter houses have a higher percentage of domestic violence. Only cowardly filthy scum can commit such crimes as duck shooting – which has NEVER been a sport but just a pathetic excuse to exercise a sickeningly appalling inability to feel empathy.

  14. Mrs Kerry Carey

    There is something so very wrong with people who enjoy hurting innocent creatures who cannot defend themselves.Wonder how they would feel if they were being hunted,shot and left to die slowly in agony!They are “Nimrods” the first man in history to hunt animals(and people)for sport.An evil man.

  15. Mrs Kerry Carey

    There is something so very wrong with people who enjoy hurting innocent creatures who cannot defend themselves. being hunted,shot and left to die slowly in agony! . evil ..

  16. MattG

    Just like going fishing I enjoy going hunting but not as a sport but as a pastime where I spent time outdoors that results in bringing home fresh organic free range meat. People rave about my wild duck schnitzel and want more.

  17. Marj Ware

    disgusting cruelty!!!
    BAN IT !!!!

  18. Sylvia Ingram

    Killing is not a sport. Find something better to use your time with.

  19. Kim

    Ban Duck shooting
    Also we need rules for feeding wild birds the incorrect diet eg white bread which is causing breeding problems, nesting problems & can cause health problems for people too

  20. Phil

    Humans really are an embarrassment to the planet…. how is killing or maiming anything a sport?

  21. Ginger Neimo

    There are humans that are violent towards humans. There are humans that are violent towards animals.
    Violence is Violence.

    Hope what goes around – comes around.

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