Video footage has been released of duck hunters flushing out waterbirds on the last day of the 2018 season with an airboat in Victoria’s south-west.
The video was taken on Monday, at Cundare Pool, an open waterway beside Lake Corangamite, west of Geelong.
“Most of your traditional hunters will calmly wait in the water, wait for a flock of birds to pass for them to shoot down,” said Gonzalo Villanueva, the activist who captured the footage for the Coalition Against Duck Shooting.
“This is an attempt to go beyond that and really terrorise the birds so that they can fly around in a more confused state and make it easier for shooters to shoot them down.”
Victorian law prohibits motor boats from being used on open water such as lakes or dams to pursue or hunt game.
Strict rules around hunting with boats
On its website, the state’s Game Management Authority specifies the conditions under which a boat can be used in the context of hunting.
The GMA site states that shooters can: “Hunt duck from a boat under power up to a speed of five knots on waterways such as rivers, creeks and streams.”
Hunting duck “from a motor boat with the boat running (whether it is in gear or not) on open water such as lakes, dams or swamps” is specifically prohibited.
Mr Villanueva said the party of eight shooters were camped along the shoreline.
“In key positions across the wetland, waiting for the fan boat to flush out the ducks so that they could then start shooting at them,” he said.
“They failed to retrieve their wounded, they failed to retrieve their dead and we’re still finding them.”
Earlier this year a report from Pegasus Economics was released to the ABC’s 7.30 program revealing that Victoria’s regulator was failing to prosecute hundreds of hunters regularly breaking the law.
Mr Villanueva said the video was consistent with the report’s findings that the Game Management Authority was unable to effectively regulate duck shooting.
“A large number of shooters are non-compliant with the regulations and the GMA is incapable and possibly incompetent in enforcing the current shooting laws,” he said.
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Ongoing concerns over regulation
Earlier this year the nation’s leading hunting organisation, Field and Game Australia, revealed it had written to the Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford to outline its concerns with the ability of the GMA to regulate duck hunting.
“Hunters are law abiding citizens, and by their nature Field and Game members are passionate about ducks and the wetlands,” its chief executive Richard Light said.
“We do not support any illegal activity by people breaking the law. We want to see them prosecuted.”
Victoria’s Game Management Authority said it had received the reports of people “allegedly herding birds towards hunters with the aid of an airboat” and confirmed that the practice was illegal.
“Authorised officers were deployed to the wetland and are currently investigating,” said the statement.
“Appropriate action will be taken against anyone acting illegally.”
Mr Villanueva said he was hoping duck shooting would be on the political agenda for the Victorian elections in November.
“It’s cruel, unjust, and it’s a tradition that needs to be banned,” he said.
In a statement, the Sporting Shooters Association told the ABC it did not condone illegal activity and ensured members were aware of duck shooting regulations.
“If our members partook in illegal activity, they would risk suspension from the association,” the statement said.