Duck and quail hunting

The issue

RSPCA Victoria is deeply disappointed in the Victorian Government’s decision to proceed with the 2023 duck and quail hunting seasons despite significant animal welfare concerns, declining waterbird abundance and lack of support within the community.

The 2023 duck and quail hunting seasons run from 8am on Wednesday, April 26, 2023 and will close 30 minutes after sunset on Tuesday, May 30, 2023, with a bag limit allowing hunters to shoot four ducks or 20 quail per day.

Native bird hunting has a significant animal welfare, social and environmental impact and cannot be supported sustainably into the future.

The facts

The RSPCA opposes the recreational hunting of native birds because of the inherent and inevitable pain and suffering caused.

There are four clear evidence-based rationales that support a duck and quail hunting ban:

  • Inherent animal welfare issues that cannot be mitigated
  • It is not sustainable based on climate outlook data
  • There are significant issues with hunter knowledge and capability
  • It is not in line with community expectations


The RSPCA is strongly opposed to recreational native bird hunting and believes it should be banned well before any 2024 season is considered. RSPCA Victoria has the following recommendations:

1. Based on the high wounding rates, RSPCA Victoria believes duck hunting should be banned due to the inevitable suffering of native ducks

2. Due to the welfare concerns associated with hunters not humanely killing ducks that have been retrieved, RSPCA Victoria believes duck hunting should be banned.

3. Based on the likely wounding rate of quail, RSPCA Victoria believes quail hunting should be banned due to the inevitable suffering of birds.

4. Due to the lack of hunter education, and therefore the likelihood that hunters are shooting non-target species, including species that are critically endangered, duck and quail hunting should be banned in order to keep all native wildlife safe.

5. Due to the impact of hunter disturbance on breeding and species richness duck and quail hunting should cease.

6. As native bird hunting is already banned in Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, and under review in South Australia, this clearly demonstrates that native bird hunting should not continue due to the absence of social license.

7. Duck hunting should not continue due to the long-term decline in game bird population, failure of the species to respond to favourable conditions, and significant risk to biodiversity.

8. Quail hunting must be banned based on the decline in Stubble Quail numbers in Victoria and the additional pressures from hunting during breeding season and habitat loss.

9. Short- and long-term climate outlook modelling shows likely impacts on availability of habitat, abundance and breeding and therefore does not support the continuation of native bird hunting.

10. Due to the direct and indirect impacts of lead ammunition on native animals and the environment, and the continued use of lead shot illegally by duck hunters, duck and quail hunting should be banned.

11. Based on the evidence suggesting there will be no negative impact to the economy if duck and quail hunting was to cease, RSPCA Victoria believes hunting should be banned to allow for greater economic contribution from alternative outdoor recreational activities and an increase in eco-tourism.

12. A ban on native duck and quail hunting will be supported by a very clear majority of the Victorian community.

Latest news

Recreational native bird shooting was banned in Western Australia in 1990, NSW in 1995 and in Queensland in 2005. The only way to protect birds in Victoria from the inevitable suffering caused by recreational duck hunting, is to amend legislation and ban it.

The Parliamentary Inquiry into Victoria’s Recreational Native Bird Hunting Arrangements will examine and report on recreational native bird shooting in Victoria. The public hearing dates for the Inquiry have just been announced and will begin on 26 May.

The Parliamentary Committee received thousands of submissions to the Inquiry which will be published over the coming weeks. You can read the submissions as they are uploaded here.

RSPCA Victoria believes the Select Committee should recommend Government bans native bird hunting to protect individual animal welfare and the environment for the future. Read RSPCA Victoria’s submission here.