Report cruelty | Contact | Media | eNews sign up
Home  >  Get involved  >  Issues - take action  >  Duck shooting

  Duck shooting

  Take action
   Latest news
Environment   MP responses

Help stop the massacre of ducks

Help us end the violence and cruelty inflicted on our native waterbirds during duck shooting season.

This brutal activity claims hundreds of thousands of waterbirds, including protected ducks, every season.

One in every four waterbirds shot will suffer a slow and agonising death. Instead of abolishing this barbaric activity, the government has invested millions of taxpayers’ dollars into it.

This bloodbath needs to stop.

There are 4 important and easy steps you can take today to end the violence against our native waterbirds.

Contact Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister Jaala Pulford
Tell the government to ban duck shooting. Email them or write them a letter, using our template.

Email the Premier at and the Minister for Agriculture at

Tell your local MP that you want duck shooting banned 
Tell your local MP to stand up for Victoria’s wildlife.


Voice your opinion
Share your opinion with the media and reach thousands of people on duck shooting. 

Help our campaign 
Our campaigns are entirely reliant on donations. Any support is greatly valued to continue this important work.

If you would like to keep across our duck shooting activities, we would love to hear from you. Simply email us at

Ducks Saved!


As we enter the fifth week of the 2016 duck shooting season, there has been a significant win for Victoria’s ducks. This week Animals Australia, working alongside the Coalition Against Duck Shooting (CADs) have been successful in shutting down for the remainder of the season, a major Victorian refuge for native waterbirds.

Johnson Swamp, which is currently sanctuary to 60,000 native water birds has officially been closed for the entirety of the 2016 duck shooting season. Congratulations to Animals Australia and CADs on their victory.


The tragic reality of duck shooting for sport

Last weekend RSPCA Victoria CEO, Dr Liz Walker, together with Dr Jason Rapke (RSPCA Victoria Director), provided veterinary care for wounded ducks brought by rescuers to the RSPCA Mobile Veterinary Clinic (MAC), parked on the shore of Lake Burrumbeet, Ballarat. Below is a personal account from Dr Liz, on the tragic reality of duck shooting for 'sport'.

Last weekend, as men in multi-million dollar cars raced one another around an inner-city lake,I was busy on the side of another lake in country Victoria administering pain relief, antibiotics and in some cases, humane euthanasia to native waterbirds shot by Victorian hunters.

Both of last weekend's activities are deeply divisive for the Victorian community. Both come with wildly contested claims about their economic contribution to the state economy. Both, as I now know, will shatter quiet peace with noise that makes your ears ring for days afterward.

But only one involves indiscriminately wounding and killing living creatures - including highly endangered and protected species - for “sport”.

The water in the lake beside which I stood had retreated some kilometers, leaving a boggy marsh littered with hundreds of dead carp in its wake. Locals told me that the bird life the lake usually supports has disappeared rapidly in recent years, and it's easy to see why. As habitat goes, it offers pretty slim pickings, but there's little alternative.  Across Victoria, wetlands are drying up at an alarming rate.

As I held wounded and dying birds in my hands, I thought about passion: the passion of the people who shot them, and the passion of the people had who risked their lives to retrieve them and then run two kilometers through the mud and the rain to deliver them into my care. The passion that runs high on both sides of the duck shooting debate, and occasionally spills over into threats and even violence.

Hunters swear that the birds they shoot die instantly, or are killed by hand immediately to end their suffering. They swear they know how to distinguish a protected from an unprotected species as it flees their guns in low dawn light and misty rain.

The protected red-necked avocet I humanely euthanised on Saturday - in severe respiratory distress, its neck and chest torn open with shot, and left to die slowly and in terror in the water - suggests a different reality.

 For the record, it looked nothing like a duck.

Dr Liz Walker
Chief Executive Officer
RSPCA Victoria

Just not good enough

On Wednesday, 10th March,  CEO, Dr Liz Walker wrote a letter to Ministers Pulford (Agriculture) and Neville (Environment, Climate Change and Water) strongly urging them to reassess their decision to proceed with a full, 12 week, duck shooting season.

We lobbied the government to cancel the 2016 based on the dry conditions prevalent in 2015, and now, since the announcement of the season in January, Victoria’s water resources have deteriorated even further!  So much so, that the Andrew’s government announced on 6th March, that water reserves would be ordered, for the first time, from the Wonthaggi desalination plant. 

The lack of a suitable habitat, attributable to very low water supplies, has potentially disastrous implications for the current population of birds and for future breeding. If water supplies are so dire, and the habitat so unsuitable, then how can the government continue to allow the duck shooting season to proceed?

You can find a copy of Dr Walker's letter here.

Letter here

RSPCA appalled by government's decision

On 22nd January, 2016 the government released its decision to allow a full 12-week duck hunting season despite compelling bird population and environmental data and widespread opposition in the community.

"While this government has made admirable strides in other areas of animal welfare, this announcement shows complete disregard for the welfare and sustainability of our Victorian waterbirds", said RSPCA Victoria's CEO Dr Liz Walker. 

"Notwithstanding our ongoing opposition to duck hunting, the RSPCA stands firm that the 2016 season should be cancelled on the basis of our analysis of the 'Considerations for the 2016 Duck Season' provided by the Game Management Authority (GMA)."

"Duck and waterfowl populations are already dangerously low, breeding is almost non-existent, and the habitat has shrunk dramatically. Forecast weather conditions for the remainder of summer represent a dire risk to the already embattled species. On this evidence, these ducks may be hunted out of existence. It may be that duck hunting dies its own slow death one day, as hunters push these birds into extinction. It's a dark day for duck welfare", say Dr Walker. 

Since the introduction of this 'sport', in Victoria, millions of birds have been killed - more than 600,000 over the 2014 and 2015 seasons alone. 

RSPCA Victoria will continue their campaign to ban duck shooting.  

Game Management Authority submission

Duck shooting is a cruel “sport” that most Victorians don’t even participate in. And with the poor environmental, habitat and breeding conditions ducks are currently experiencing, this coming shooting season poses extreme sustainability risks for a range of waterfowl.

The Game Management Authority (GMA) puts forward its recommendations to the government every year as to whether the duck shooting season should go ahead.

We were asked to submit evidence-based reasons why it should end by Thursday 17 December 2015, but the most recent data to base our submission on was only provided to us early December 2015 which didn't give much time. However, we did manage to get our submission in on time. 

Now we just have to wait on the government's decision, lets hope it's the right one.

You can view our submission here.

Help protect our wildlife

Duck shooting is an annual event, taking place over a 12-week period. Every year, we can expect the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of native waterbirds including protected ducks across Victoria. 

Since the introduction of this ‘sport’ in Victoria, millions of waterbirds have been killed. Those shot at but don't die immediately,  suffer a slow and agonising death as a result of broken bones, bleeding and torn muscles. Orphaned ducklings who cannot fend for themselves are also left to die a slow and painful death. 

Other Australian states including QLD, NSW and WA have banned duck shooting, while the ACT never allowed it in the first place.

Massacres of our native wildlife will continue if we do not take a stand against this barbaric activity.

Ducks are native wildlife and deserve protection. Help us continue to strive for a ban on duck shooting in Victoria. Take action.

2013 - Out for a Duck report confirms duck shooting is economic flop

A report on the economic benefits of duck shooting compiled by The Australia Institute has undermined the government’s claim that it contributes significantly to the Victorian economy.
The Australia Institute found that duck hunters are outdoors type people who would spend their money on other recreational activities in Victoria irrespective of whether or not they were permitted to hunt ducks. Duck hunting bans have had no noticeable economic impact in other states.

The issue

The Victorian duck shooting season is a 12-week massacre of our native waterbirds, many facing a slow, painful death.

Sadly every season, hundreds of thousands of waterbirds are legally slaughtered, with many sustaining injuries and made to endure a slow and painful death.


In 2012, our state government introduced laws to make it easier to recruit more duck shooters by:

  • Exempting juniors from paying a Game Licence fee.
  • Allowing juniors to hunt without sitting the Waterfowl Identification Test (a test all duck shooters must take to protect other native wildlife) from July.
Overseas shooters are also exempt from licence fees and testing requirements.


A peak of 25,837 hunters1 were licensed to hunt duck during the 2015 duck season (0.4% of the population) in Victoria.  

or the 2015 Duck Shooting Season the total seasonal harvest was estimated at 203,934.1

The Average total harvest since 2009 is 382,4471

  1. 1. Consideration for the 2016 duck season, current as at 7 December 2015, Game Management Authority



Pro-Duck Shooting Arguments

Shooters often claim that their 'sport' helps regional communities and the environment. The RSPCA disputes these claims and maintains that duck shooting is a cruel, outdated 'sport' that has no place in the Victorian community.

Wood Duck image courtesy of Ashley Herrod, Birds Australia


Duck shooting interferes with the delicate ecosystems of Victoria's wetlands. Sadly, bird populations have not had an opportunity to replenish following many years of drought. Additionally, until lead shots were banned in the 1990's, duck shooting was responsible for leaching 350 tonnes of poisonous lead into Victorian waterways. These lead deposits will remain for 100 years, poisoning wildlife and damaging flora.

Duck shooters have also been found to pollute waterways, leaving behind spent cartridge shells and rubbish.

Population numbers

An aerial study of Australia's eastern wetlands by University of NSW Professor Richard Kingsford has tracked bird populations for more than 30 years. Key wetlands are now dry. The situation is as dire as in 2007 when the government cancelled the duck shooting season. Yet the government still declared a 12-week duck shooting season in March 2015.

After years of drought, increased rainfall substantially improved the habitats of our native waterbirds. This has lead to a significant increase in breeding and populations of native birds across Victoria. These young birds are crucial to their species' survival but tragically, they are easy prey for hunters. Those not shot are often orphaned or simply suffer from the shock of exposure to gun fire.

Endangered species

Although Waterfowl Identification Tests have been introduced in Victoria, these tests don’t go far enough in protecting endangered species. Plus children and overseas hunters are not required to take the test. Hunters are only required to sit this once, the pass rate is not 100% and evidence shows, despite this 'test', many hunters fire at birds before they have sufficiently identified the species. Hunters fire into flocks and the spray of pellets can easily wound birds flying with the target. Many non-game species such as swans, ibis and spoonbills are often fatally injured.

Chestnut Teal Duck image courtesy of Ashley Herrod, Birds Australia


In 2013, in a bid to end duck shooting, RSPCA Victoria wrote to all 128 Members of Parliament in Victoria in July 2013, urging them to take notice of the extremely low percentage of duck shooters in their respective electorate. We want our leaders to help support a ban on duck shooting by recognising that shooters make up a minority of voters in Victoria.

Even in the duck shooting wetlands, duck shooters make up an alarmingly low percentage of the Victorian population.

Here are the responses from Members of Parliament:

  • Encouraging responses

    Greg Barber, Leader of the Victorian Greens
    Sue Pennicuik MLC, Member of Parliament for Southern Metro Region
    John McLindon, Acting Chief of Staff (representing Daniel Andrews MP)
    Lily D’Ambrosio MP, State Member for Mill Park
    Lisa Neville MP, Member for Bellarine

  • Negative responses

    Andrew Katos MP, State Member for South Barwon
  • Non-committal responses

    Johan Scheffer MP, Member for Eastern Victoria Region
    Jeanette Powell MLA, Member for Shepparton
    Telmo Languilller MP, State Member for Derrimut
    John Lenders MP, member for Southern Metropolitan Region
    Bronwyn Halfpenny MP, State Member for Thomastown
    Ken Smith MP, Member for Bass
  • Duck shooters in Victoria

    Duck shooters make up an incredibly low percentage of the Victorian community.

    Click here to find out the percentage of shooters across Victoria, including your electorate, as well as the response from your local MP.

    We encourage you to also send a letter to your MP, expressing your desire to see an end to this barbaric ‘sport’.
    Email your MP in less than one minute today!

    *RSPCA Victoria obtained data under the Freedom of Information to show the tiny percentage of voters in each electorate who are licensed to shoot ducks.

Pacific Black Duck image courtesy of Ashley Herrod, Birds Australia

Meet Penny, a dedicated duck rescuer

Victoria’s duck shooting season is a barbaric and senseless attack on our native waterbirds. For three months of the year, ducks are unprotected and shot from the skies, all in the name of ‘sport’. With research indicating that one in four ducks that are shot do not die instantly, but rather are left to suffer a slow and agonising death, these defenceless animals rely on dedicated rescuers who risk their own lives to protect our ducks.

“Along with all other animals ducks have no voice, so they need people to defend their rights”, says Penny, a passionate animal lover who dedicates her life to the welfare of animals. “They are peaceful creatures that deserve to be able to live an undisturbed life in their natural habitat. How would we like it if we were in our homes and an army of men with guns invaded?”

In 2011, after learning about the cruelty inflicted on native waterbirds, Penny became a rescuer with the Coalition Against Duck Shooting, determined to help wherever she could. ”When I first learned of this I thought it was a great thing that people were doing and left it at that. It wasn’t until I dug deeper and learned more about the surrounding issues and the plight of our wildlife really struck me; the combination of how the ducks and other native wildlife are left to suffer, the dependants of these animals who are left to either starve or be preyed upon, and the environmental issues that arose from these activities.”

During her two years as a duck rescuer, Penny has noticed some dramatic changes – the most notable being the decline in the number of hunters who are out on the wetlands. “From my first time out rescuing ducks to now, the most noticeable change I have seen are the numbers of hunters. There has been a dramatic fall in the number of hunters in comparison to last year. In my discussions with other rescuers who have been out on the wetlands since the 1990’s, there has been a steady fall in numbers of hunters.”

In 2012, Penny spent the opening weekend at the beautiful, and normally serene, Lake Buloke near Donald, where many hunters gather for the opening weekend of the duck shooting season.

“At the official opening time, hearing all the gun shots go off at the same time was nothing compared to last year; a true indication that hunter numbers were well down. I remember clearly the 2011 opening day - it sounded like a war. It almost brought me to tears watching the ducks fly up and then a number fall, followed by cheers from the shooters.”

As well as being a duck rescuer, Penny is also dedicated to teaching the younger generation about the importance of animal welfare, working as an Education Administration Officer at the RSPCA. Being such a passionate advocate for animals means that Penny will be out rescuing ducks and other waterbirds caught in the crossfire each and every year until this barbaric ‘sport’ is banned. “I have a passion for the wellbeing of all animals and believe they deserve the same respect we would expect to receive ourselves.”

If you would like to learn about becoming a duck rescuer with the Coalition Against Duck Shooting please visit their website.

Penny, duck rescuer

Penny, duck rescuer

Jumps racing
> Learn more
Puppy factories
> Learn more

Testing on animals
> Learn more
Cat welfare
> Learn more
Farm animals
> Learn more
Horse welfare
> Learn more

Contact us
Find local RSPCA
Latest news
Media releases
RSPCA shop
Site Map
AEC terms of reference

About us
Adopting animals
Education team
RSPCA Pets Place
Vet clinics
Pets for adoption
Adopting from us
Senior pets
Kittens in pairs
Pets in apartments
Adoption fees
Happy endings

Get involved
Regular giving
Campaign Hero
Corporate Involvement

Our sponsors:

Health and behaviour
Cats and kittens
Dogs and puppies
Guinea pigs
Horses and ponies
Mice and rats
Reptiles and frogs
Seasonal health
RSPCA Pet Insurance
Issues - take action
Breed specific Legislation
Cat welfare
Duck shooting
Greyhound racing
Humane food
Live export
Jumps racing
Puppy factories
Testing on animals
Report cruelty
Dogs in hot cars
Emergency contacts
Emergency planning
Lost and found
Report a lost pet
First aid for pets
Mobile Animal Care Unit (MAC)
Copyright 2016 All Rights Reserved | The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Victoria) | ABN 56 749 449 191 | ACN 131 965 761 | Privacy Policy