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What is the RSPCA’s view on duck hunting?

The RSPCA opposes the recreational hunting of ducks because of the inherent and inevitable pain and suffering caused. Every year, during the government-declared ‘open season’ many thousands of ducks are shot over the wetlands of Australia in the name of sport. Some of these ducks will be killed outright. Some will be wounded, brought down and killed on retrieval. Many others will be crippled or wounded and will die within a few hours or days. Some will suffer prolonged pain before they die.

Shotguns fire a cluster of pellets rather than a single bullet as with a rifle. Shotguns rely upon hitting vital organs (mainly heart and lungs) in the body to cause death. As there are always open spaces in the pellet cluster, many ducks are hit with shot but are not killed outright. That is, wings and other body tissues and organs may be hit causing injury but not death. Even the most accurate shooters cannot kill reliably. Thus, large scale cruelty is inevitable. Some ducks will drown, whilst others may be unable to fly, or feed, thus leaving them exposed to starvation, the elements or predators.

In addition, during a duck shoot, other non-target species of birds become frightened and/or distressed by the disturbance created by people, dogs and noise of shotguns. There have also been many instances where non-declared species are shot and maimed and/or killed.

Many veterinarians have attended duck shoots to tend to injured birds and have been appalled at the extent and nature of injuries inflicted including severely damaged bills, leg and wing injuries, as well as muscle and tissue damage.

There are relatively few hunters compared to the general population and lack of community support for duck shooting to continue and yet in the States where it remains legal, governments are reluctant to prohibit it.

Recreational duck shooting was banned in Western Australia in 1990, NSW in 1995 and in Queensland in 2005.

Please contact your local RSPCA for further information.

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Updated on February 7, 2023
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