Duck enthusiasts are trying to halt the final season ahead of the big first weekend after birds were illegally culled in the early days.
The Coalition Against Duck Shooting went to federal court on Friday afternoon, seeking an urgent injunction to stop the season.
Coalition member Jo Soren represented the group at a hearing before Judge Helen Rofe, saying four or five endangered birds had been culled since the season opened on Wednesday morning.
She said the number of birds in the yard had declined so much that breeding was unsustainable and would take two or three years to recover.
The group is not only concerned about birds being shot, but also about those being disturbed by shooting and then moved from critical feeding, foraging and nesting habitats.
Ms Soren said a report from last year found that 80% of duck shooters could not distinguish between game and non-game duck species and described ‘indiscriminate culling’ and fighting everything who fly.
She also criticized the Game Management Authority, which oversees compliance with duck shooting regulations, saying it was failing in that compliance role.
She said the chairman of the body’s board was a duck hunter who had rejected recommendations asking the council to hand over its regulatory function to a separate body, as NSW had done.
Ms Soren described Prime Minister Daniel Andrews’ comments, comparing duck shooting to golf, as “most offensive”.
The injunction request was based on an argument that the Victorian government had failed to obtain approvals for the season under environmental and conservation legislation.
“The fact that they are declaring a 90 day season when things are so horribly desperate for these birds is just the most appalling (thing), just totally irresponsible,” she said.
Ian Freckleton represented the GMA and state government ministers Lily D’Ambrosio and Mary-Anne Thomas who are also named.
He said the actions taken by the trio to authorize the filming season were not subject to this legislation, so there was no proper basis for claiming a review of their actions.
Judge Rofe also told Ms Soren that they had not made the decision to have a duck season – one was already permitted by law.
This year’s decision was limited to the length of the season and sack limits for shooters.
The duck hunting season lasts until June 13.
Judge Rofe is due to give her decision at 5:15 p.m.
Australian Associated Press