Duck hunting season in Tasmania is due to start in under one month and the ever divisive debate about duck hunting is back on the agenda.
RSPCA Tasmania put its foot down last month and called for the state government to "follow the lead" of other states and ban of duck hunting in Tasmania.
"As Tasmanians, we pride our state on being "clean and green" - and our island should be a sanctuary for wildlife," RSPCA Tasmania chief executive Jan Davis said.
IN OTHER NEWS:
"The RSPCA opposes the recreational hunting of ducks because of the inherent and inevitable pain and suffering it causes."
Recreational duck shooting has been banned in Western Australia, NSW and Queensland. In Victoria the viability of duck hunting has become and even more hotly debated topic in more recent years, and the Greens just called for hunting to be banned altogether as well.
Duck hunters are adamant that hunting, for them, is about more than "blasting a duck out of the sky". They argue that conservation forms the basis for their shooting, and the reality is that they would only get out shooting a few times each season - not enough to severely impact duck populations.
Dorset Field and Game treasurer and duck hunter Lee Summers said the 1109 registered hunters in Tasmania are respectful of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment guidelines.
"We're not making that much impact really," he said.
"You're only allowed to shoot 10 ducks per day. If you were to get out all the days in the season, of course you could do a lot of damage, but if we you go 10 times you're lucky."
Mr Summers has been involved with duck hunting for over 25 years. It is something he did with his father, and something his father did with his father. It is generational.
His dad, Shane Summers, is the president of Dorset Field and Game. He said that hunting is something that brings the family together.
"Been doing it for 40 odd years and I've tried to include my kids and grandkids," he said.
Lee Summers considers hunting in the same way.
"It's like a generational thing. Everyone goes through it and does it. I've been doing it with my dad since I was a young fella and having a good time. He did it the same with his dad, and I plan to do it with my children and do the same as well," he said.
Lee Summers also said that he believed shooting helped keep the duck population in Tasmania to the point that it did not become a burden on Tasmania. He said, in NSW, the need for duck culls was an argument to say that a shooting season should exist there, and should not be banned in Tasmania.
Dr Eric Woehler from Birdlife Tasmania disagrees.
He alluded to the fact that Tasmania acts as a refuge for mainland ducks when droughts besiege other states as reason enough to say that this state was unique.
In that sense, Dr Woehler said any surveys of duck populations in the state were skewed and did not actually represent the situation in Tasmania.
He also said, with the exception of Moulting Lagoon near Coles Bay, he could not see how shooting ducks contributed to conservation.
"It's hard to really take with any seriousness that hunting helps conservation in any way at all," Dr Woehler said.
"These ducks are part of the system here. They were here for thousand of generations before we turned up. The nutrient cycling and defecation of the bird back into the river system is all part of the natural process."
While middle ground seems unlikely with stark differences between pro and anti hunting voices, there is one thing that may unite them.
The last time a review was undertaken into the viability of duck hunting in Tasmania was in 1990 and both sides believe it is time for that to happen.
"There is genuine basis for review of the population data from the different counts to undertake a population viability analysis," Dr Woehler said.
"It looks at what we know of the population ... and tries to explain and understand what the forces are on those populations. That would be a legitimate addition to and review of the licensing process and anything else."
Shane Summers agreed that a review could help out.
"I think it probably would be worthwhile, it certainly wouldn't hurt," he said.
Mr Summers said that hunters were typically responsive to DPIPWE and worked as hard as they could to comply with rules because there was such a microscope over duck hunting.
While the review might be called upon for different reasons, there is at least some agreement.
On average there are between 45,000 and 50,000 ducks shot each year in Tasmania - around 40 ducks per registered hunter.
A spokesperson for DPIPWE said there was a high level of compliance from the duck hunting fraternity with rules regarding when to hunt, what ammunition to use and what ducks could be shot.
"In the past ten years, enforcement officers have not detected any cases of illegal hunting relating to the misidentification of species," they said.
When asked whether a review would be undertaken to update knowledge about duck hunting in the state the spokesperson said it was confident the current systems around the industry were adequate.
"DPIPWE undertakes annual state-wide surveys of water birds, including ducks available for harvesting. This information is used each year to inform ongoing management of wild duck management," they said.
"It is of note that long term population monitoring of wild duck populations conducted annually shows no evidence of long-term decline in wild duck numbers in Tasmania over this period."
What do you think? Send us a letter to the editor: