Media release

Experts name 30 wetlands that must be off-limits to hunters

Wednesday, 27 March 2024

  • Estimated reading time 2 minutes

Experts recommend closing at least 30 Victorian wetlands this duck hunting season

VICTORIA: BirdLife Australia has recommended for 30 Victorian wetlands to be closed to duck hunting this season, including Lake Wongan, Koorangie Wildlife Reserve and Andersons Inlet. The recommendation comes after extensive monitoring by multiple environmental organisations, including BirdLife Australia, which found the sites to support significant populations of birds recognised in state, federal and international threatened species listings. Experts at BirdLife Australia have advised the negative impacts of hunting activities include disturbances to critical stages in the life cycles of these threatened species that cannot be reliably mitigated.

The 2024 Victorian duck hunting season will commence on April 10 despite an upper house inquiry in 2023 that recommended ending the practice amid increasing evidence of the negative impact on native bird populations.

This week, the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Change (DEECA) discussed sensitive populations at 24 sites with stakeholders, including hunting groups. BirdLife Australia presented the supplementary survey data for those sites and for 11 further wetlands not previously considered.

“BirdLife Australia has expanded our bird survey efforts ahead of this year’s hunting season, and we have more data than ever before to back our call for the closure of these wetlands,” said CEO Kate Millar.  “With over 4,000 huntable waterbodies in the state, we hope that they act on our advice to protect the threatened native birds at these 30 wetlands as an absolute minimum.”

A final list of wetlands closed to hunters this year will be released by DEECA next week.

Decades of waterbird monitoring in Australia reveals an ongoing and significant population decline in most waterbird species – including five of Victoria’s eight species of game duck. The Eastern Australian Waterbird Survey, an independent survey conducted annually by experts at the University of New South Wales, shows waterbird populations have declined as much as 90% over the last forty years in eastern Australia. Despite this, in the last ten years, an average of 320,000 ducks were shot and killed each hunting season in Victoria alone.

“With threatened birds like Freckled Duck mistakenly shot every year, efforts to educate shooters and restrict negative impacts are ineffective,” said Kate Millar.  “We will continue our decades-long fight to end duck hunting in Victoria and advocate for the practice to be banned across the country.”

BirdLife Australia will continue monitoring wetlands and bird population movements and make further recommendations to the Game Management Authority, if necessary, ahead of the 2024 season.

BirdLife Australia CEO Kate Millar is available for comment.

BirdLife Australia Media Enquiries
Please contact James Johnson on 0423 659 324 or at media@birdlife.org.au.

Which Victorian wetland closures are recommended?

  • Andersons’s Inlet
  • Big Reedy Lagoon State Game Reserve
  • Brady Swamp
  • Bullrush Swamp
  • Cundare Pool
  • First Marsh (Koorangie State Game Reserve)
  • Gaynor Swamp
  • Greens Lake (Corop)
  • Hird Swamp
  • Lake Bolac
  • Lake Buloke (Little Lake Buloke)
  • Lake Buninjon State Game Reserve
  • Lake Colongulac
  • Lake Connewarre (Hospital Swamp)
  • Lake Cullens
  • Lake Elingamite
  • Lake Goldsmith
  • Lake Martin
  • Lake Muirhead
  • Lake Murdeduke State
  • Lake Natimuk
  • Lake Stewart
  • Lake Tutchewop
  • Lake Wongan
  • Moodie Swamp
  • Nooramunga Marine & Coastal Park (Clonmel Island)
  • Pine Lake
  • The Green Swamp
  • Tower Hill
  • Victoria Lagoon