Friday, September 22, 2023

First ever native stubble quail count in Victoria finds only 101 birds: Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting

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Hunting regulator accused of bias – extrapolates number to over 3 million

Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting Inc. (RVOTDS), October 2022

For 25 per cent of each year in Victoria, little native Stubble Quail are pummelled with shotgun pellets in the name of recreation, despite government data on harvest estimates showing a worrying long-term decline in the bird’s numbers.

Game Management Authority (GMA) arranged a first-ever count of the birds in Victoria early this year, and the resultant report it assisted in drafting, has recently been published.

The report’s authors have admitted only 101 birds were counted, yet the figure was extrapolated via complex methodologies up to an extraordinary estimate of 3.1 million.

Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting inc, (RVOTDS), believes the report is not only unreliable, but clear evidence the “independent” regulator is biased and unable to effectively do its job.

“For a start, the report says quail shooting is “popular”, when less than 0.03 per cent of the population participate in it” says Elizabeth McCann, Campaign Director RVOTDS. “In our group alone we have far more supporters than that who are vehemently opposed to the pastime, believing it cruel and destructive. Aside from hunter trespass issues, who wants toxic lead pumped around their paddocks or the risk of foot and mouth disease trapsed in?” 

As for accuracy, the report’s authors have previously stated that a co-efficient of variation (error indicator) should not exceed 15 per cent for results to be acceptable. (Abundance estimates of game ducks in Victoria, Ramsey and Fanson 2022, p 14-15). However in this quail report, there’s a coefficient of variation of 29 per cent, in other words, the estimate of 3.1 million quail is unreliable.

Quotes by Elizabeth McCann – Campaign Director, Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting inc:

The regulator seems reluctant to accept published real-world data showing long-term declines in ducks and quail. Instead they seem intent on spending taxpayers’ money to come up with their own “science” to justify the shooting.

See also: Eastern Australia Waterbird Survey

In the midst of an extinction crisis, there is no excuse for an “independent” regulator, tasked with ensuring sustainability, to gamble the future of our native birds on skimpy data and a model that has not yet cut its teeth.

Related story: Victoria’s aerial duck survey takes to the sky


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