Animal Liberation Tasmania are appalled but unsurprised by the revelations that advice from the Principal Wildlife Management Officer to close eight key sites for the duck slaughter season of 2020 was likely ignored by the minister, Guy Barnett.
The inadvertently released minutes from earlier this year advised that due to extreme drought on the mainland and the transitory nature of wild duck populations between Tasmania and the mainland, the Tasmanian Liberal Government should adopt strategies in line with those taken in other states in order to reduce impacts on populations by the slaughter. The drought has significantly decreased wetland habitats across eastern Australia (including Tasmania) resulting in large numbers of wild ducks seeking refuge in the state.
The department advised the following reserves be closed for the duration of the season:
• Moulting Lagoon Game Reserve
• Lake Tiberias Game Reserve
• Farm Cove Game Reserve
• Brushy Lagoon Conservation Area
• Lake Crescent Public Reserve
• North East River Game Reserve
• Waterhouse Conservation Area
• Cameron Regional Reserve
The department did not advise reducing bag limits due to the bureaucratic logistics of amending the regulations. A reduced season was likewise not recommended.
As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, many of these sites were closed to the public, including to duck shooters, as well as lands managed by Hydro Tasmania and STT. Killing on private land and under crop protection permits was allowed, however the minutes advised farmers with CPPs to deter rather than kill wild ducks where possible.
Primary Industries Department Secretary Tom Baker has claimed the minutes were not provided to the minister by his department, and in comment has sought to absolve the minister of any and all responsibility for the failure to act on this advice.
However Cassy O’Connor of the Greens has stated that it is unlikely the minister did not see the minutes, and if he did not then it was likely deliberate. Based on our interactions with the Tasmanian Liberal Government on matters relating to non-human animals over the years, which have been largely met with either dismissal or outright hostility, we concur.
Irrespective of drought conditions or bird numbers, the recreational slaughter of wild ducks is a cruel and exploitative activity that has no place in a modern and progressive society. We will continue to oppose the slaughter by whatever means necessary.