FOR DUCK’S SAKES: MP ignores advice on open season
SENIOR public servants warned the state government it should massively curtail this year's duck hunting season on conservation grounds, but the call was ignored.
A draft minute to Primary Industries Minister Guy Barnett prepared by the government's Principal Wildlife Management Officer strongly recommended the government act to cut back on this year's open season.
The push had the backing of the manager of Game Services Tasmania.
It said other states were working to reduce the number of ducks shot by hunters and the Tasmanian population was considered an important source to repopulate interstate populations.
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"These surveys found the abundance of waterbirds in 2019 [interstate] to be among the lowest since recording began with about 50 per cent of birds being found," it said.
"Tasmania supports an integral part of the eastern Australian duck population and should therefore take into account recent surveys of waterbird populations and wetland areas across the eastern mainland states and like mainland states take a conservative approach to harvesting ducks in 2020."
But it is unclear whether the concerns ever reached the Minister.
No contrary or updated advice was revealed in the response to a wide-ranging Right to Information request made by the Greens.
Mr Barnett told parliament earlier this year that duck hunting in Tasmania was sustainable and one of the things that "makes Tasmania great".
Mainland duck populations have been ravaged by drought to reach historical lows and there is some of the survivors many have flown south seeking better conditions in Tasmania.
The minute recommended that eight areas where duck hunting is traditionally allowed "to protect a core part of the Tasmanian and eastern Australian duck population".
"Acceptance of this recommendation would clearly demonstrated to the community that the Gutwein government is managing wildlife based on sound biological principles rather than tradition," it read.
Asked about this year's duck season in parliament, Mr Barnett said it was both humane and sustainable.
"The Liberal Government supports the Tasmanian way of life. We support the important opportunities to be involved in recreational hunting or shooting. It is an important part of the Tasmanian way of life. It is part of what makes Tasmania great."
Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment spokeswoman said the decision to open the season was based on a survey of Tasmanian - not mainland - duck numbers taken in February this year.
"Based on that information, the Secretary of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, as the Director of National Parks and Wildlife and Director General of Lands, made the decision to allow access to specified reserved land under the National Parks and Reserved Lands and Crown Lands Regulations during the wild duck season," she said.
Hunters in 2019 shot an estimated 49,000 wild ducks in Tasmania. This year's season ran from March 7 to June 8.
Greens leader Cassy O'Connor said approving an unrestricted duck season this year had been irresponsible.
"The departmental advice to Minister Barnett doesn't mince words. It points to a dramatic decline in wetlands habitat on the mainland and a decline in native ducks overall.
"It highlights the importance of Tasmanian wetlands for breeding and species protection. The department strongly recommends not opening up eight areas of reserved land to duck shooting this past duck season."
Originally published as FOR DUCK'S SAKES: MP ignores advice on open season