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Duck hunting

Every year, many thousands of ducks are shot over the wetlands of Australia in the name of sport.

Despite the strong evidence of extreme suffering involved, declining waterbird numbers and the lack of community support, four jurisdictions in Australia still allow recreational native bird hunting: Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. Native bird hunting has a significant animal welfare, social and environmental impact and cannot be supported sustainably into the future.


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The issue

Every year during the government declared open season, many thousands of ducks are shot over the wetlands of Australia in the name of sport.

Some of these ducks will be killed outright. Some will be wounded, brought down and killed on retrieval. Many others will be left, crippled and wounded to suffer a long, drawn-out death that can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Many of the ducks will endure prolonged pain and distress before they die.

People fire at the ducks with shotguns, which release a cluster of pellets aimed at hitting the birds’ vital organs to cause death. But due to the open spaces in the pellet cluster, many ducks are hit with a shot but not killed outright. Instead, their wings or other non-vital organs may be hit, enough to injure them but not to cause death. Thus, large scale cruelty is inevitable. Some ducks will drown whilst others may be left unable to fly or feed, leaving them exposed to starvation, the elements and predators.

In addition, non-target birds (including protected, endangered and other natives) risk being frightened and distressed by the disturbance created by hunters, dogs and the noise of the shotguns. Even more alarming are the many instances where non-declared species are shot, maimed and/or killed during the hunting season.

Many veterinarians have attended duck shoots to treat injured birds and have been appalled at the extent and nature of the injuries inflicted – including severely damaged bills, leg and wing injuries, as well as muscle and tissue damage. The pain and suffering caused to ducks in the name of ‘recreation’ is neither justified nor acceptable.

What needs to change

The RSPCA opposes recreational duck hunting due to the inherent and inevitable pain and suffering caused.

Recreational duck hunting should be banned in all Australian states and territories. The relevant Minister in each state has the power to revoke the annual declaration of an open season to shoot native ducks.

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