Not all its quacked up to be… The truth about duck hunting

Published on 7 February 2023

As calls for a duck hunting ban in Victoria grow louder and research indicates that two in three Victorians (66%) oppose it, it’s timely to bust some of the myths surrounding this controversial activity.

Separate studies recently completed by Kantar Public and RedBridge Group show Victorians hold concerns for native ducks, that regional and metropolitan views are similar and a ban would have negligible impact on regional economies.

MYTH – A duck hunting ban is only supported by people in metropolitan areas.

FACTS

  • In research conducted by Kantar Public, of metropolitan residents 68% are opposed to duck hunting, while 60% oppose it in regional Victoria.
  • Interestingly, in a study completed by RedBridge Group, 29% of respondents who strongly support hunting also strongly support or support a ban on duck hunting, suggesting the broader hunting community agrees the activity is not viable.

MYTH – A duck hunting ban will negatively impact the economy.

FACTS

  • Estimates show that only 11,549 hunters hunted in 2022, meaning only 0.17% of the Victorian population is actively participating in duck hunting and a regular season runs for around 12 weeks a year showing that a ban will have negligible impact on the economy due to the extremely limited participation rate.

MYTH – Ducks do not suffer as a result of hunting.

FACTS

  • Shotgun use results in many ducks being wounded and suffering before they die. Shotguns fire a cluster of pellets and rely upon hitting vital organs to cause death; however, as there are always open spaces in the pellet cluster, many ducks are hit with shot but are not killed outright. That is, wings and other body tissues and organs may be hit causing injury but not death. Thus, large scale suffering is inevitable. Some ducks will drown, whilst others may be unable to fly, or feed, thus leaving them exposed to starvation, the elements, or predators.
  • The Game Management Authority has acknowledged the duck wounding rate could be between 6-40%. When using the reported total harvest figure of 262,567 ducks from the 2022 season, this equates to between 15,700 and 105,000 ducks being wounded and not killed outright in the 2022 season.

MYTH – Best practice hunting and the current rules are well understood.

FACTS

  • Research commissioned by the GMA in 2020 relating to hunter knowledge showed that when asked about dispatching downed ducks, only 13% of respondents answered correctly.
  • When asked about identifying game ducks, only 20% of respondents answered correctly.
  • When asked about minimising wounding, only 37% of respondents answered correctly.

MYTH – People won’t holiday in regional Victoria if they can’t participate in duck hunting.

FACTS

  • Research by RedBridge group found duck hunting negatively impacts on people’s decisions
    relating to holiday destinations. 80% of respondents strongly opposed and 65% of those opposed
    to duck hunting said they would definitely or probably avoid holidaying where duck hunting occurs.
  • The research undertaken by RedBridge shows that 80% of respondents strongly opposed to duck
    hunting said that seeing and experiencing native wildlife was somewhat or very important when
    choosing a holiday destination in Victoria.

MYTH – Hunting of native ducks is sustainable.

FACTS

  • Data from the annual Eastern Australian Waterbird Aerial Survey shows long-term declines in game bird species abundance.
  • Total waterbird abundance remained well below the long-term average, the 11th lowest in 40 years.
  • Most game species of ducks had abundances well below long-term averages.
  • Six out of eight game duck species continued to show significant long-term declines.

MYTH – Hunters won’t spend money in regional Victoria if there is a duck hunting ban.

FACTS

  • The 2020 “Economic contribution of recreational hunting in Victoria” DJPR report showed that
    96% of hunters indicated that they participate in other outdoor recreation activities, all of which
    provide the same personal benefits as they listed for their reasons for going hunting. These
    activities include camping, recreational target shooting, fishing and four-wheel driving, all of which take place in regional Victoria.

MYTH – Climate outlook data supports sustainable duck hunting.

FACTS

  • Rainfall in Victoria has decreased by approximately 10 per cent during the cool season months
    (April to October) over the past 22 years. This rainfall directly impacts the creation and
    maintenance of waterbird habitat.
  • Australia’s future climate projections show further decreases in cool season rainfall and longer
    periods of drought on average across regions of southern and eastern Australia. Therefore, duck
    hunting contributes to the pressure already placed on native duck populations due to the changing climate.

The RSPCA is opposed to the recreational hunting of ducks as it causes unnecessary injury, pain,
suffering, distress, or death to the animals involved.

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