RSPCA calls for end to SA duck hunting

Tim Dornin |

South Australia has approved this year’s duck hunting season, from March 19 to June 26.
South Australia has approved this year’s duck hunting season, from March 19 to June 26.

An estimated 40,000 water birds will be killed during South Australia’s duck hunting season this year with the RSPCA calling for an end to the recreational activity that has “well and truly lost its social license”.

The state government on Thursday approved this year’s hunt which will run from March 19 to June 26.

The government has set an eight-bird daily bag limit for shooters who take a range of species including the grey teal duck, the Pacific black duck and the Australian shelduck.

It has also set a 20-bag limit for the hunting of stubble quail.

The RSPCA said the limits would result in an estimated 40,000 birds being killed and 10,000 injured and left to die slow painful deaths.

In the lead up to the March state election, the organisation called on the government and the Labor opposition to commit to joining NSW, QLD and WA in banning the hunting of native waterbirds.

Animal welfare advocate Rebekah Eyers said it made no sense to give a handful of hunters priority over the majority who wanted native waterbirds protected.

“The decision to allow recreational duck and quail shooting ignores the views of most stakeholders, whilst allowing a minority to kill and injure them as a recreational hobby,” Dr Eyers said.

The RSPCA said successive polls had confirmed high community support for a ban, including one in March 2020 which showed 73 per cent in favour of ending the hunt.

Dr Eyers said if more people witnessed firsthand what happened in SA’s wetlands and waterways, community opposition would be even greater.

“We are not talking about a restrained, stationary animal being shot in the head with a bullet and dying quickly,” she said.

“Duck hunters fire pellets into moving targets – these birds are flying – so the pellets smash their bills, break their wings and legs and embed in their flesh.

“Once injured, birds try to flee and hide in reeds and many drown or die slow deaths from starvation, infection or predation.

“At a time when wildlife is more precious than ever to our community, shooting at native waterbirds is a recreational activity that has well and truly lost its social license.”

In 2021, 1210 hunting permits were issued in SA.