WARNING - CONFRONTING IMAGES: Geelong business owner Tania became concerned when a driver stopped his white Mitsubishi ute opposite an industrial estate and started throwing items into a nearby paddock.
“It’s a dark street, there's not much traffic, it's not a thoroughfare road at all," she said.
Her first guess was the man was dumping drugs, rubbish or even old gas bottles, but what she later found was much worse. It left her “heartbroken”.
A minute-long CCTV video seen by Yahoo News Australia confirms what she described. It shows a man early on Wednesday morning wearing reflective markings trudging through long grass and hauling something over the fence.
When Tania’s husband came back from investigating later that morning, his response was blunt: “It's not good sh**,” he said.
Lying on the ground were the bodies of nine dead native ducks – seven on the nature strip and two thrown over the fence. None of them had been harvested for their meat.
“I always thought duck hunting was for the meat itself not just for the fun of it, but this just looks like a thrill kill,” she said.
Who is shooting ducks in Victoria?
Every year the Victorian government lifts protections designed to protect waterbirds and allows shooters to open fire on them during its annual duck season.
With numbers of these native birds known to be falling, and growing reports of “poor behaviour by some hunters”, this year’s season was reduced by the government to just one month.
Many shooters comply with the rules and only shoot ducks for their meat, but Yahoo is aware of a number of reports this year of birds being shot and left to slowly die. Dozens of dead birds have also been found discarded or hidden, likely left because hunters are only allowed to shoot four a day.
Tania said this sort of behaviour “is not on”. “This is not acceptable, not in my front yard,” she said.
Quick duck hunting facts:
1700 submissions have been made to a Victorian duck hunting inquiry.
Duck hunters maintain the season is a tradition that should continue.
Since 1986, activist Laurie Levy has dumped hundreds of endangered waterbirds, shot illegally during the season, in front of the premier’s office.
Ducks show signs of being shot in the face
Lou Bonomi, an animal rescue volunteer with Wildlife Victoria, was called to the scene at around 10:30am. “It’s really great that the community is on watch and called us in, and that they’re shocked that people are doing this to wildlife during duck season,” she said.
Lou said some of the ducks were missing their breast feathers, a sign they could have been retrieved by dogs, although necropsies are yet to be completed. “We still need to do X-rays, but its fairly obvious they’ve got gunshot wounds in their faces and their bodies,” she said.
Concern about wild ducks is growing in Victoria. The government is under pressure both internally and from animal welfare advocates to follow the lead of NSW and Queensland and ban the annual event.
Wildlife Victoria’s CEO Lisa Palma would like to see an end to duck season. She said the high number of calls the group’s volunteers receive about injured ducks highlights the compassion the community has for them.
Over the last five years, it has tended to close to 12,000 native ducks across the state. “We’ve seen an ongoing and substantive increase in calls to our response service since 2008 for native waterbirds,” she said.
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