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article imageProtester shot in the face by 14 year-old duck hunter

By Kimberley Pollock     Mar 20, 2011 in Environment
The controversial duck hunting season in Victoria, Australia got off to a bloody start with a protester being shot in the face on the first day.
The ABC has reported that a 43-year-old woman was shot in the face by a 14 year-old boy and was taken to hospital with facial injuries but in a stable condition. The shooting incident happened about 9am on Saturday at Lake Buloke near the town of Donald.
Field and Game Australia CEO, Rod Drew, says the protesters shouldn't have been in the water before 10am, reports the ABC. "There are human safety regulations under the Wildlife Act which make it an offence to enter the water before 10am when the hunting is occurring and these people were in the water when they shouldn't have been," he said.
The police are calling the shooting an accident but witnesses say the 14 year-old boy was taunting the protester, Julia Symons, before she was was peppered with shotgun pellets, reports the Herald Sun. Their report says "steel pellets entered her temples, left cheek, chin, nose, hand and lip."
Andrea Maxted was next to Symons when she was shot and said that she feared the worst. She says the shooters just walked off, reports the Herald Sun.
The Coalition Against Duck Shooting's, Kurt Opray, says Symons was trying to rescue injured birds, reports the ABC. "She was just in the water seeking to scare birds away from the shooters and render assistance to birds that have hit the water," he said. "If they can't keep the sport safe for themselves and others who happen to be in the vicinity it should be finished."
The Coalition say that native birds are still recovering from a 13-year drought and that a three-month recreational duck shooting season is "irresponsible." On their website, Campaign Director, Laurie Levy, said: “Waterbirds have only just begun to recover in response to the rain in Victoria and east coast Australia. However, five years of heavy, replenishing rain must fall to allow bird numbers to build up.”
RSPCA Victoria are also against duck hunting and are calling for people to tell the Victorian Government and local members that they are against duck hunting. Their website states:
"Saturday, 19 March 2011 will mark the beginning of what could be the biggest massacre of native duck populations on record. A full 12 weeks of recreational duck shooting will be going ahead with 22,000 registered shooters in Victoria legally allowed to shoot 10 ducks per day. The reality of this is, the number of birds that could potentially be killed far outweighs the number of ducks residing on our wetlands. All at a time when population numbers are finally starting to rejuvenate."
Wounded Grey Teal Duck  McDonald’s Swamp  2005.
Wounded Grey Teal Duck, McDonald’s Swamp, 2005.
Kerry Tait
The Coalition say that each year as well as ducks other wildlife are also shot and in 2010 they found four, illegally shot, threatened Grey-headed flying foxes. The threatened bats had also been shot with banned lead-shot.
According to the Coalition their is only 15 wildlife officers to patrol every Victorian shooting site. They say it is impossible for 15 wildlife officers to police thousands of Victorian wetlands and rivers over the opening weekend, let alone for seven days a week for three months. On the Coalition website Levy says, “If the government refuses to provide enough wildlife officers, the season must be cancelled.”
Duck Hunting is controversial in Australia and after many years of protest it's popularity is dwindling, reports The Age Newspaper. In an editorial feature earlier this year The Age said it had long objected to duck hunting because of both the environmental consequences and the cruelty.
The Age: A ''clean kill'' is possible with a rifle - hunters help to cull feral animals - but hunting flocks of wildfowl with a shotgun is unavoidably cruel and rare species are killed. Studies show that for every duck retrieved, a wounded bird flies off, often suffering a lingering death. Studies of tens of thousands of wild waterfowl found almost one in five birds of some target species has shot lodged in its body.
The Coalition Against Duck Hunting have been fighting to have duck hunting banned in every state of Australia for decades. Three states have already banned the recreational shooting of native waterbirds – Western Australia (1990), New South Wales (1995) and Queensland (2005). The Coalition say that they will keep fighting until the remaining states ban duck hunting as well.
RSPCA Victoria have also vowed to fight on: "Our battle to ban duck shooting continues and we will not rest until our native water birds are protected."
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