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A WILDLIFE rescuer believes ducks were wounded and abandoned at Wimmera wetlands when duck season opened at the weekend.
Tania Begg, who is based in Kyneton, visited Yarrackigarra and Booroopaki swamps near Minimay at the weekend.
She said a female blue-winged shoveler was one of several protected birds that were illegally shot while she was there.
“I visited multiple wetlands west of Horsham at the weekend and what I witnessed was purely appalling behaviour by shooters,” she said.
“Some wetlands were packed with hundreds of shooters and at 7:30am on Saturday they let thousands of pellets fly.
“They shot at anything that flew.
“There were many birds that were wounded and left to die well after shooting at stopped for the day – it was really distressing to see.”
Ms Begg said it was disappointing the season went ahead and ever more disappointing that animals were being left behind to suffer.
She said policing was also inadequate at the wetlands.
She said there were only small teams of officers from the Game Management Authority and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
“They were undoubtedly outnumbered by the shooters several hundred to one,” she said.
“With so few officers to cover the area, the shooters enjoyed a massacre of waterbirds, leaving dead and wounded game and non-game birds behind.”
Ms Begg said she also so retriever dogs dumping live birds on the shore.
“What I witnessed was truly barbaric,” she said.
“The cruelty and ethical issues are serious, and it is about time the government admits that it cannot police and control the shooters who target the wrong birds, or don’t retrieve their birds.
“They also do not have the resources to police all wetlands across the state for the 12-week season.”
Ms Begg said what she witnessed was not isolated to the Wimmera.
A Game Management Authority spokesman said hunters were a generally law-abiding group, but unfortunately there were some who choose to do the wrong thing.
“There are heavy penalties for failing to comply with the state’s hunting laws,” he said.
“For those hunters who choose to break the law, penalties could include fines, forfeiture of equipment used in the commission of an offence, loss of game and firearms licences, convictions and serious offences can even result in jail terms.”
The spokesman said the authority worked closely with hunting organisations and industry to maintain the highest standards of behavior in the field through the Respect: Hunt Responsibly initiative.
“Hunters should not tolerate the illegal actions of the irresponsible few and I urge all responsible hunters to work with the GMA to stamp out illegal behavior,” he said.
“The GMA carefully reviews any reported incidences of illegal behaviour and strongly encourages hunters and the broader public to report any suspected illegal hunting activity to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, the Customer Service Centre on 136 186 or via the GMA website at www.gma.vic.gov.au.”
The spokesman said authority officer, police and officers from the Department of Land Water and Planning and Parks Victoria would be active throughout private and public land across the state during the season to ensure hunters acted in a safe and responsible manner.