The demise of the Freckled Duck.

Further to my post on the Freckled Duck present at Lake Cooper, it is a
concern that the “Powers That Be” are again risking the destruction of them
in Victoria.

By allowing each shooter to shoot one Freckled Duck they have taken the fear
of being fined away from the shooters.

Although some shooters are doing the right thing and can tell the difference
between them and other ducks the majority can’t and don’t give a stuff.

Talking to several shooters and local over the last week it was general
knowledge that the Freckled Ducks were known to be on Lake Cooper for
several weeks

before the season opened.

The swamps or lakes cannot now be shut down a couple of days before the
opening after the debacle that caused last year, it must be done at least a
week before.

Although the lake is now closed to shooting it is a case of too little too
late the horse has bolted, large numbers were shot opening morning.

They cannot be shot on Lake Cooper now but can be shot on a small lake on
private property just a couple of Km over the hill on the Western side where
there are over

5000 ducks sitting and moving between the two lakes.

Some Freckled Ducks were seen on the private lake last week but an organized
shoot was held over the weekend.

The authority most likely have no jurisdiction over private land.

I lived in the area for over 45 years and have rarely seen Freckled Ducks (
Monkey ducks we called them ) in the area since I was a kid, I was told
there was a mob in the area

by a fox shooter who found them on a Turkey Nest dam in 2013 and I traveled
down from Qld in 2014 to look for them and found them on the Stanhope
Settlement Dams on 26th june
2014 and have taken hundreds of photos of them since at the Kyabram Fauna
Park (Where they settled for several months ) the Girgarre Evaporation ponds
and several

private dams.

They are the first mob to make the area home for many years and I was able
to find them each time I went down.

There were between 300 and 350 in the mob when I first found them and I
would not like to think that the few on Lake Cooper is all that is left of
this mob.

With the big rains they have in the area lately I have never seen so many
ducks around after duck opening as there are this year, every patch of water
or dam has ducks on

them with several having over a thousand birds sitting right beside the
roads.

Most shooters only shoot opening weekend but with the numbers around this
year there is a lot more shooting going on week after week.

Big mobs of Pink-eared Ducks sat on the local sewerage farms for the last
two to three years without breeding, aprox 15,000 at Shepparton and over
10,000 at Tatura and last year

they moved out to breed as the conditions were suitable.

Pink-eared have taken a massive belting as there were thousands in the area
and as they are slow fliers and fly low and won’t leave the swamp or lake
they are living on they got

hammered as they flew around in circles.

Usually the last duck to breed there were a lot of very young birds flying
on opening day.

The bag limit is 10 birds each day , some shooters on the local swamps got
their bag when the shooting started in 15 minutes and most had it in half an
hour.

Some did the right thing and walked out but many more continued to shoot for
hours after and not even bothering to pick them up, I would hate to tell you
how many some bragged to me

the numbers they shot.

It is reported that there were hundreds dead Freckled Ducks picked up from
one swamp in Kerang the next day and the swamp was then closed to shooting.(
A bit late )

What is the good of having laws if they aren’t enforced, the D P I seem to
have a ” No Confrontation Policy ” towards the shooters.

I asked one shooter when was the last time he had been fronted by an
inspector and he laughed and said ” 1976, by Jim Crosier of Shepparton ”

I talked to one local shooter who said he could tell the difference between
the Freckled and other ducks and indicated he didn’t shoot them but while
his wife was looking at a book I have

had published she pointed to photos of the Freckled duck and said “They
look like the ones you bought home the other night” He sheepishly replied
” They taste the same ”

That is the attitude of a lot of shooters, they know they shouldn’t shoot
them but who is going to do anything about it when they do ???

I don’t think duck shooting will ever be stopped as there are too many $
involved and too many votes to be lost.

The number of D P I personal was drastically cut several years ago, but even
if they were seen to be around the days before the opening asking to see
licenses, checking if they have done the

identification test, are they using steel shot etc it would let the shooters
know they are being watched and need to do the right thing.

What is the good of having a license system and an identification test if it
is never checked.

They were seen to watch shooters start shooting before opening time and
watched on while shooters walked out of swamps further up North with dozens
of ducks but did nothing.

I’m not against the shooting of ducks it’s their right by law but I’m
certainly against shooters that abuse that privilege, and I’m worried that
if the Game Management Authority don’t get their act together the numbers
of Freckled and Blue-winged Shoveler will plummet to levels seen a few years
ago when Freckle’s were listed as rare and endangered.

What can we do ??? We could try and monitor the swamps and lakes more
closely and put pressure on the departments to close the swamps early where
Freckled Ducks are seen, not let them

wait till hundreds are shot and then close the swamps etc.

Surely there are enough bird watchers around with good scopes to have a
serious look at these swamps a week or two before opening to see what is on
them.

My whinge for the day.

Barney.



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