A 77-year-old man’s marathon fight to end Victoria’s duck shooting season could end in victory as pressure mounts on government to ban the 2020 hunt.
Coalition Against Duck Shooting founder Laurie Levy first waded into Victoria’s wetlands on a dark morning in 1986.
“We put together a small team to challenge Victoria’s 100,000 duck shooters,” he told Yahoo News Australia.
“There were guys dressed up in camouflage gear, using semi-automatic and pump action shot guns.
“Birds were falling out of the sky – it was a frightening experience.”
Throughout the 1970s, Mr Levy worked on the successful Project Jonah campaign to see whaling in Australia banned, and then helped establish a national program for assisting beached marine mammals.
He was riding on the coat-tails of these successes when he turned his attention to protecting Victoria’s native waterbirds.
“I didn’t expect to spend 34 years working on this issue,” he said.
“But once you’ve been out there on the wetlands and you’ve seen the shocking violence and cruelty that duck shooters inflict on Australian’s native waterbirds, you can’t turn your back on them.”
Ducks ‘left to drown’
Mr Levy is confident the bill to ban duck hunting, introduced by Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick, will see the annual event stopped before the 2020 season.
If passed, Victorian law would come into line with NSW, Queensland and Western Australia where native waterbirds are protected throughout the year.
Mr Meddick told Yahoo News Australia polling shows the bulk of the Victorian population don’t support duck hunting and the state Labor government needs to shift its position in line with community concern.
“We don’t see a downside here for the government,” he said.
“I’ve seen the devastation that can happen to native wildlife each year.
“Ducks are left to die, they are left drown, they’re in pain and other types of native wildlife also get shot, like swans and egrets.”
Earlier this year, Mr Meddick released a duck back into the wild that had been found by rescuers with a gunshot wound to the bill.
“Hopefully when we get duck shooting banned in Victoria, that duck will live a full and fruitful life,” he said.
‘Duck hunters aren’t bloodthirsty lunatics’
Duck shooter Anthony Grogan hopes the government won’t support the ban.
He has fond memories of learning to hunt with his father and he wants to pass the tradition down to his children.
“Duck hunters aren’t blood thirsty lunatics that just want to kill,” he told Yahoo News Australia.
“One of the big misconceptions about people that hunt is that they get some sort of thrill and some sort of joy from going out and killing things.