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Victoria Premier Challenged on Resumption of Duck Shooting

9th January 2010

Centre Fellow, Professor Eleonora Gullone, PhD, FAPS has protested the decision by the Premier of Victoria, Australia, John Brumby, to allow the resumption of duck shooting. In an open letter, Dr Gullone wrote:

We know now from considerable research that people who derive pleasure (consider it sporting or recreational) from the suffering/death of other living beings are not behaving in a normative way. The majority of Australian society considers such behaviour abhorrent and cruel. What we know is that in a significant number of cases, water birds are injured and not killed. There is unquestionable suffering involved. That duck shooters can disregard the suffering they bring about is a cause for concern. Low empathy and high callousness are known predictors of antisocial and aggressive behaviour.  Worse still is when the behaviour is carried out in front of children as it increases the chances that their empathy development will be significantly affected from such observations. Your decision to continue to legalise duck shooting masks its pathological aspects and passes on the message to those who find satisfaction in such cold and callous behaviour that it is OK for them to find it satisfying.

She concludes: “we are still in the midst of a drought so significant in Victoria that we are at stage three water restriction levels. Despite this grave environmental situation and the clear suffering of water birds resulting from this, duck shooting is allowed to continue … Please reconsider your decision.”

Dr Gullone is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing, and Health Sciences, School of Psychology and Psychiatry at Monash University in Victoria, Australia, and an expert on the relationship between animal cruelty and human anti-social behaviour. She is a contributor to the book The Link Between Animal Abuse and Human Violence.

For further information on the “wildlife game regulations” in Victoria, Australia, see here.