Ten ducks, riddled with shotgun pellets, were found stuffed in plastic bags and dumped near train tracks at Melton in what is being described as a “cruel and vile” act of animal cruelty.
The adult Pacific black ducks were likely lured to their deaths. Photos of the ducks, seen by Star Weekly, show undigested bird seeds in their crop.
Crops are part of the duck’s intestinal system, used to temporarily store food prior to digestion.
Coalition Against Duck Shooting campaign director Laurie Levy said shooters have over the years “bragged” about befriending ducks and feeding them before shooting them during the duck hunting season.
But he said it’s the first time the group has evidence that ducks were likely coaxed with food before being killed.
“I think that’s the most cowardly act they can undertake,” Mr Levy said. “Those birds didn’t stand a chance — to lure birds in … where they think they’re dealing with human friends, and then to pull out a shotgun … I think, is one of the lowest acts I’ve seen in 31 years.”
Melton resident Nathan Miles said the ducks were found by railway workers on Tuesday afternoon. He’s called on authorities to “fully investigate” the incident and prosecute the offenders.
“It’s disgusting, vile and cruel. It appears someone has fed these native water birds, gained their trust and then massacred and dumped their bodies,” Mr Miles said.
Star Weekly understands the Game Management Authority and RSPCA are both investigating the shooting.
Tom Whitty, a spokesman for state agriculture minister Jaala Pulford, said authorities were out in full force during the duck hunting season (which ends June 12 this year) to ensure people complied with hunting regulations and laws.
“We respect the fact that many people have deeply held and divergent views about duck hunting,” Mr Whitty said.
“However, the government recognises that hunting is a legitimate recreational activity, provided the rules are followed.
“In saying that, hunting must remain safe, responsible, and sustainable. That’s why extensive surveys of duck numbers and other environmental factors are undertaken before and throughout each season to inform decisions.”
The number of “active” duck shooters in Victoria has decreased dramatically from 85,000 to 15,000 people in the past 30 years, according to CADS.
A Roy Morgan research from 2007 found 75 per cent of Victorians wanted the shooting of native water birds for recreational purposes banned, while 20 per cent were against it being banned. Five per cent were undecided.