Conservation group says endangered species 'sitting ducks'

AN Australian conservation organisation has fears large numbers of endangered birds will be killed in the Victorian duck season due to the drought in the nation’s east.

BirdLife Australia conservation manager Dr Jenny Lau said that in a bid to survive thousands of ducks — including threatened freckled ducks — had flocked to Victoria’s rapidly-drying wetlands.

“A duck hunting season should not have been declared this year. BirdLife Australia calls on the Victorian government to cancel this year’s duck season,” Dr Lau said.

“Waterfowl and other wetland birds have become concentrated on Victorian wetlands because there is simply nowhere else for them to go. They have literally become sitting ducks.”

Dr Lau said one of the state government’s own criteria for closing wetlands to hunting was the need to provide refuge for water birds during periods of drought.

She said that with nearly 80 per cent of Queensland now officially in drought and NSW having just endured its driest summer for decades, Victoria’s wetlands provided just such a refuge.

Dr Lau said Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh had now closed six wetlands due to the presence of threatened species, which was good news. 

“However, the high concentration of birds on rapidly-drying wetlands leaves plenty of potential for a repeat of last year’s Box Flat massacre when hundreds of freckled duck and other protected species were killed in a shooting spree on opening day,” she said.

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