Dear Mr Andrews, we need to talk about ducks

This is an open letter to Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria, Australia.

Dear Mr Andrews,

A bill to ban duck shooting in our state was introduced to parliament in March this year by the member for Western Victoria in the upper house, Andy Meddick of the Animal Justice Party.

I am hoping that you and your government support the bill in the debate that will follow its second reading.

I feel the issue is straightforward.

In December 2017, your government released its Animal Welfare Action Plan.

In her foreword to the plan, former agriculture minister Jaala Pulford stated (with my underlines) that we all have a role to play in ensuring the welfare of pets, farm animals and wild animals.

Similarly, the minister’s ambassador for animal welfare, Lizzie Blandthorn, stated that we must protect animals from cruelty and support their quality of life, including on farms and in their natural environment.

The stated vision of the plan was “a Victoria that fosters the caring and respectful treatment of animals”.

In its 2017 biodiversity plan, “Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037“, the state’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning expressed the view that “native plants and animals have an intrinsic right to exist, thrive and flourish”.

In its 2018 “Living with Wildlife Action Plan“, the department stated: “Victoria’s native wildlife species are a unique and important part of the landscape. The Victorian Government is committed to the conservation of Victoria’s wildlife and has developed this Action Plan to address some key areas that require improvement.”

Despite those statements and vision, your government permits the shooting of ducks and other wild animals as “recreation”.

Allowing people to shoot animals “in their natural environment” is inconsistent with the notions of “caring and respectful treatment” and protecting animals from cruelty.

Duck shooting highlights the double standards that exist in our treatment of animals. How often have we seen media reports of a mother duck and her ducklings assisted in crossing a busy road? A duck who has been blasted from the sky may have had ducklings awaiting food, warmth and comfort that will never come. They will almost certainly perish in horrendous circumstances.

Many victims are members of species that are supposed to be protected. Many suffer horribly before dying.

All this is happening as the ducks’ habitat is being ravaged by climate change.

The 2018 Aerial Survey of Wetland Birds in Eastern Australia, with funding support from the Victorian government, reported continued long-term declines in total abundance, wetland area and breeding species richness.

My request is simple: that you and the government you lead act in accordance with your professed beliefs concerning native animals.

Please change your government’s policy and support the bill to ban duck shooting.

Kind Regards,

Paul Mahony

Note

The letter was sent in email form, with copies to the minister for agriculture, Jaclyn Symes and the minister for energy, environment and climate change, Lily D’Ambrosio.

The email included hyperlinks but not the full references shown below.

Image

Ed Dunens, “Morning stretch, Lake Wendouree. Ballarat”, Flickr, CC BY 2.0

References

Parliament of Victoria, Parliamentary Debates (Hansard), 59th Parliament, First Session, Tuesday 19th March 2019, p. 789, https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/daily-hansard/Council_2019/Legislative_Council_2019-03-19.pdf

Agriculture Victoria, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, “Animal Welfare Action Plan” (2017), pp. 3 & 6, http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture/animal-health-and-welfare/animal-welfare/animal-welfare-action-plan (Accessed 28th July 2019)

The State of Victoria Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, “Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037” (2017), p. 6, https://www.environment.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0022/51259/Protecting-Victorias-Environment-Biodiversity-2037.pdf (Accessed 28th July 2019)

The State of Victoria Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, “Living with Wildlife Action Plan” (2018), p. 5  https://www.wildlife.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/112429/DEWLP_LivingWithWildlife-ActionPlan_www.pdf (Accessed 28th July 2019)

Porter, J.L., Kingsford, R.T. & Brandis, K., “Aerial Survey of Wetland Birds in Eastern Australia – October 2018 Annual Summary Report”, Centre for Ecosystem Science, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, UNSW and Office of Environment & Heritage NSW,  https://www.ecosystem.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/2019-04/2018-Eastern-Australia-Waterbird-Survey-Summary-Report.pdf

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