A parliamentary committee has recommended duck hunting remain legal in South Australia but with stricter regulations for hunters and harsher penalties for those who break laws aimed at preventing animal cruelty.

Key points:

  • A parliamentary committee has recommended against banning duck hunting in SA
  • The RSPCA says duck numbers are in a decline
  • An MP in favour of duck hunting says the pursuit is already highly regulated

The Select Committee Report on Hunting Native Birds also recommends controls such as marshals for shooting on crown land and funding for compliance by staff from the Department for Environment and Water.

A similar committee recommended banning duck hunting in Victoria in August.

Most duck hunting in South Australia occurs in the Riverland and the South East, near the Victorian border, so the committee has recommended preferencing South Australians for hunting permits if a ban eventuates in Victoria.

The RSPCA says the inquiry failed to address the concerns of South Australians who want the sport banned.

South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and the Northern Territory allow duck hunting.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

RSPCA animal welfare advocate Rebekah Eyers said the report did nothing to protect declining native bird populations.

“There’s less wetland habitat that’s available and we’re heading into a drier El Niño — this is really serious,” Dr Eyers said.

“We have five out of the eight species being hunted in long-term decline.

“This is a native bird emergency and hunting should be stopped.”

No ‘epidemic’ of bad behaviour

The Legislative Council committee was made up of two Labor MLCs, two Liberals, one Green, one One Nation member and the independent Frank Pangallo.

One of the Liberals — Ben Hood — said duck hunting was already highly regulated

“I don’t think the evidence that was heard from the committee was showing an epidemic of bad behaviour by hunters,” he said.

“A majority of hunters are doing the right thing every season, but we do of course need to strike a balance with these recommendations.

“They’re not going to please either side of the debate but if should someone be found in breach of the [National Parks and Wildlife] Act then more serious penalties should be considered, but hunters should also know what they need to abide by.”

Environment Minister Susan Close said the government would consider the recommendations.

“The state government is committed to balancing the best available ecological science with the social and cultural values of the community on this issue,” she said.

Mount Gambier-based Liberal MLC Ben Hood is in favour of duck hunting staying legal.(ABC South East SA: Eugene Boisvert)

The Department for Environment and Water has separately proposed changing a series of lakes in the South East from crown land into conservation parks, which would prevent duck hunting on them.

The Wattle Range Council voted this week to formalise its opposition to the proposed changes to Lake George, near Beachport, under the South East Coastal Lakes Project.

“I wanted to put the motion to council so our ratepayers and the community could see that we supported their stance,” councillor Sharon Cox said.

“We have to remember that as elected members we have to represent them.”

Get our local newsletter, delivered free each Friday

Posted , updated