Freckled Ducks, Hunting and the Bigger Picture

To: Birding-aus <>
Subject: Freckled Ducks, Hunting and the Bigger Picture
From: Nick Leseberg <>
Date: Wed, 27 Mar 2013 05:15:06 +0000
Dear Sonja et al,

I think we as birders need to be very careful how we approach this particular 
event. The broad statement that "I don't think shooters would consider it a 
waste or mindless" is unhelpful and attempts to tar all shooters with the same 
brush. There are many responsible shooters out there who are very aware of the 
rules applied to regulate their chosen pastime, and who abide by those rules. 
There are plenty of birders who disregard or blatantly flout the rules 
associated with our pastime, approaching nests too closely (see the recent 
thread concerning the nesting Red Goshawks at Mataranka), using excessive 
playback when photographing birds etc, but there is no suggestion that birding 
should be banned. Likewise there are hunters who will disregard or blatantly 
flout the rules pertaining to hunting. As birders and people generally 
concerned for the environment, we must be sure to direct our efforts at 
ensuring the rules that exist are enforced and that those who flout them are 
 shed accordingly, rather than simply decrying the existence of duck shooters 
as a fraternity, because one or even a minority of duckshooters broke the 

This raises the follow-on question of whether the rules and regulations which 
apply to hunting are adequate, an issue for which there is no easy answer. 
Several species of duck are not endangered and could quite easily sustain a 
level of harvesting that would not affect their population. Just as there is a 
program for management of macropod populations in some rural areas, a program 
whereby people are permitted to sustainably hunt certain duck species is 
unlikely to have any significant effects on the populations of those species. 
If such a program is effectively managed and policed I can only see benefits. 
What if the money raised from such a program was put towards the conservation 
of sensitive wetlands, as occurs in the United States where the hunting lobby 
is also a very effective conservation group? I have often wondered why 
organisations which ultimately have similar goals are not able to unite in some 
way to further both their interests.

If the issue is that shooting ducks is inhumane due to the probability that 
birds will be left wounded, then we should make this clear also. Is there 
possibly a balance that can be reached here? What if those rules and 
regulations that try to mitigate these problems can be better enforced, perhaps 
with the help of conservation volunteers? Would that satisfy organisations like 
the Coalition Against Duck Shooting? Could the organisations on both sides of 
this argument meet at some level to come up with an accord where they agree to 
disagree on some issues, but also commit to working together to solve other 
problems and also advance the causes of both organisations on issues such as 
wetland conservation, shooter/birder education etc. 

So, before the hate mail starts rolling in, I want to make it clear that my 
intention here is not to defend duck shooting. The incident that occurred in NW 
Vic was abhorrent and we as bird lovers should voice our disgust and ensure 
that the perpetrator(s) feel the full weight of the law. When looking at the 
bigger picture though, we need to be articulate and direct about what our 
issues are. If we have a particular problem with duck hunting we need to make 
that clear, and we also need to ensure we can justify why it is a problem and 
how this problem can be solved. Broad brush statements such as "duck shooters 
are murdering innocent wildlife and should be stopped" are not helpful, and 
simply force the opposing groups further apart. In reality, the abolition of 
duck hunting in Victoria (and perhaps looking further ahead, NSW) doesn't seem 
to be an option, so let's think outside the box and be creative in coming up 
with ways we can approach this problem and get a better outcome 
 for all involved.

Regards and good birding (as he boards up his windows and doors, and turns off 
his phone and email!!)

Nick Leseberg


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