Why Don’t Ducks Burn?


Geoff Russell issues a rallying cry to the troops to help secure the same level of suffering for waterbirds that other native fauna suffered during the recent bushfire crisis.

The figure of a billion native animals lost in bushfire this fire season may not include too many waterbirds. After all, they can both fly and swim, giving them at least two ways to avoid the flames. But shotgun loving duck and quail shooters around Australia have volunteered to take one for the team and give up some of their leisure time to voluntarily make sure that these native species don’t miss out on some serious gratuitous suffering in 2020.

Having a couple of pellets in your guts may not quite match the burns inflicted on koalas, wombats and kangaroos, or the melting from the inside experienced by flying foxes, but it’s a start. Some shooters have promised to hang wounded ducks on their belts until they suffocate; this should go some way to have their suffering match those of our wildlife who have burned to death.

There is a bidding war of sorts between the few remaining state governments which still allow shotgunning of ducks and quail. The Marshall Liberal Government in South Australia began the bidding with the declaration of a killing, crippling and wounding season on ducks and quail back before Christmas.

Shooters will only be allowed to bag four ducks a day, but, as usual, they can wound and cripple ad-libitum.

This puts the pressure on Victoria. The trick in situations like this is to maximise suffering without actually eliminating the species. Extinction would, after all, permanently inhibit the fun of the sport forever, and nobody in Government wants that; because they’d lose the shooting vote forever.

The shooter vote isn’t actually of any electoral significance, and the shotgun vote is but a small part of the shooter vote, yet it still carries considerable prestige in the halls of Parliament.

A shotgun has long been the mark of the aristocracy. Nothing quite says ‘landed gentry’ quite so much as having a broken shotgun perched jauntily over your shoulder as you prance around your wetland in tweeds with a faithful gun dog at your side.

So what will the Victorians do? They haven’t said anything yet about a season in Victoria. Can they risk five ducks a day to best South Australia? And Tasmania? She’s a bit of a wild card.

Whatever the Victorian Government does, we should all get behind our shooters. Without them, our ducks and quail might feel considerable survivor guilt as a result of not suffering from the fires.


Geoff Russell is a regular contributor to New Matilda. He has qualifications in mathematics and has written software all of his working life, but in the past decade has devoted increasing time to writing non-fiction with a simple goal... make the world a better place. A three-decade vegan and member of the Animal Justice Party, his first book in 2009 was 'CSIRO Perfidy', a critique of the high-red-meat CSIRO 'Total Wellbeing diet'; the most environmentally destructive diet on the planet. His concerns about climate change and the ineffectiveness of renewables led to a re-examination of his lifelong opposition to nuclear power. After considerable research he realised that the reasons people fear nuclear are built on obsolete knowledge about DNA and cancer. Geoff's second book 'GreenJacked! Derailing environmental action on climate change' is an e-book available on Amazon. He has been a regular contributor to BraveNewClimate.com since 2008 and has had pieces published in The Monthly, Australasian Science and a number of Australian newspapers.