Image for ‘‘Catastrophic’ decreases of Tassie ducks ahead of annual shoot’

*Pic: Last year’s protest ...  Comment 7: … ‘Photographer, Michelle Powell, who so generously lent her time and talents to document the event’ …

Analyses by BirdLife Tasmania of DPIPWE waterfowl counts at Moulting Lagoon have identified ‘catastrophic’ decreases in four of the waterfowl species that can be shot legally in Tasmania. The four species investigated were Mountain Duck, Black Duck, and Chestnut and Grey Teals. A fifth species that can be shot in Tasmania (Wood Duck) is rarely recorded at Moulting Lagoon, and was excluded from analyses.

BirdLife Tasmania examined the data for 15 years – between 2001 and 2015 inclusive, and calculated the difference between peak counts for each species and current counts.

“The differences between maxima and current counts varied from decreases of 62% (Mountain Duck) to 97% (Grey Teal)” Dr Eric Woehler, BirdLife Tasmania Convenor said today.

“Black Duck (-71%) and Chestnut Teal (-81%) also showed catastrophic decreases,” Dr Woehler added.

“The Tasmanian Government acknowledges that Tasmania acts as a refuge for mainland waterfowl, noting that waterfowl cross Bass Strait and shelter in Tasmania’s wetlands until mainland conditions improve for them, yet they allow these birds to be shot,” Dr Woehler noted.

The 2017 take of 58,000 ducks was 27% higher than in 2016, with almost 1200 shooters reporting an average of 50 ducks each. “In light of the recent reports on duck mismanagement in Victoria, where the State Government is unable to enforce hunting restrictions, BirdLife Tasmania believes a similar situation exists in Tasmania. Almost certainly, the real take is higher than that reported to authorities” Dr Woehler said.

“Following a Right to Information request from BirdLife Tasmania, the Tasmanian Government was forced to admit that only 1 prosecution and 1 infringement notice had been issued in the past 6 years, with annual numbers of shooters typically around 1000,” Dr Woehler said.

“It beggars belief that no non-target species have been shot, and it’s an indication of how passively the Tasmanian duck hunt is currently managed by the Government when all they can say is that, ‘none reported’” Dr Woehler added.

“The Tasmanian Government is taking a ‘hands-off’ approach to waterfowl management in Tasmania”.

“Shooting species whose populations have decreased between 62% and 97% can not be described as “sustainable”, no matter how much political spin is attached,” Dr Woehler added.

“Stopping this unsustainable and indefensible ‘sport’ in Tasmania is long overdue, and the Tasmanian Government must act immediately to protect our waterfowl rather than giving hunters free rein.” Dr Woehler concluded.