Many Victorians feel that a ban on duck hunting will now pave the way for further restrictions on traditional pursuits and access to public land.
Regulated duck hunting is a sustainable practice that has significant social, economic, and environmental benefits for Victoria.
This message was clearly lost on a stacked and biased Upper House Inquiry, which recently recommended the end of native game bird hunting.
The Labor, Greens and Animal Justice Party members on the Select Committee put ideology ahead of science and the positive role that hunters play in restoring waterfowl habitat.
Last year alone, hunter conservationists spent half a million dollars in volunteer hours restoring wetland habitats, erecting nesting structures and pest eradication.
Wetlands such as Connewarre near Geelong and Heart Morass near Sale, have been brought back to life through restoration projects led by local hunters, who should be praised for their dedication.
In fact, the 3,200 acres which comprise Heart Morass, once a salt pan worn down by a century of stock grazing, is today a thriving healthy wetland teaming with bird, insect and aquatic life.
If Labor enforces a ban on duck hunting, where is the incentive to volunteer?
This is on par with maintaining a golf course that you’re not allowed to play on.
Dr Brian Hiller, Professor of Wildlife Ecology, sums it up well. It is all about habitat.
“Habitat is key – if you have habitat, you have birds,” Dr Hiller has stated.
This evidence was the key message on the cover of the dissenting minority report, I prepared on behalf of The Nationals and Liberals. If volunteers continue to preserve and revive places like Heart Morass, then ducks will have additional habitat to breed and flourish.
Regulated by the Game Management Authority, with a high degree of compliance, native game bird hunting is practiced in a safe and responsible manner, ideally using the interim adaptive harvest model to guide bag limits.
Ecologist and co-author of the interim harvest model, Professor Richard Kingsford said that he found little to no impact on bird populations due to hunting.
“We also investigated whether there was any effect of hunting on those species, and we found a very small effect, which was considerably overridden by the loss of habitat.”
Victoria has approximately 58,000 trained and licenced hunters, including 26,000 duck and quail hunters, who collectively contribute around $356 million and 3,138 jobs annually to the Victorian economy, predominantly in regional areas.
A ban on regulated duck hunting would not only ignore the science of waterfowl populations, but it would also completely disregard the traditional pursuits of rural and regional Victorians and the economic stimulus it provides.
The Nationals have in the past and will continue to support law abiding hunters and acknowledge their incredible work as hunter conservationists.
Daniel Andrews must reject any proposition to ban native game bird hunting.
Melina Bath MP
The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Public Land Use