HUNTERS have been reminded to act responsibly and follow new changes during this year’s duck hunting season, which begins on Saturday.
Game Management Authority chief executive Greg Hyams said all hunters who held a Victorian game licence had received a letter from the GMA, outlining the 2018 season arrangements and details of the new regulation changes.
“By now, all hunters have received a detailed letter outlining the arrangements for this year’s duck hunting season, so there is no excuse for hunters to be unfamiliar with the new regulation changes,” Mr Hyams said.
“Under new regulations, hunters must stop shooting once a bird is downed and make all reasonable efforts to immediately recover it. They are also required to at least salvage the breast meat from a duck to ensure that harvested game is not wasted.
“This is already standard practice for the majority of responsible hunters.”
Locally, this means hunters must salvage the breasts of ducks shot at the Heart Morass, but also adhere to advice issued by the Environmental Protection Authority not to consume any ducks from the area because of potentially elevated levels of PFAS (per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances) detected in the birds.
“There is no excuse for any hunter to be unfamiliar with these changes and hunters who fail to comply with these new rules will risk receiving significant fines, forfeiture of equipment and loss of game and firearms licences,” Mr Hyams said.
Gippsland East MLA Tim Bull said last year’s season was marred by some irresponsible actions, as he called for improved levels of monitoring and enforcement in parliament last week.
“We need to weed out those who do not do the right thing,” he said.
“Those people who do not abide by the strict laws and regulations that are in place should face the full force of the law.”
Mr Bull said the state needed better resourcing to make those who do not follow the law accountable.
“There are significant penalties for failing to comply with hunting laws but the laws don’t act as a deterrent if they are not backed up by the visible presence of enforcement officers on the ground,” Mr Bull said.
“I also know there are those in the community who hold a different view on duck season and I respect those views, but do not support ending this traditional activity.”
Hunting will begin at 9am on Saturday and 8am on Sunday across the whole state as part of a trial of opening the season during daylight hours. Hunting can occur until half an hour after sunset on both days.
For the rest of the season, hunting times will revert to the standard period of half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset.
The bag limit will remain at 10 birds per person per day, however hunting the Blue-winged Shoveler will be prohibited due to persistent low numbers of the species.
Hunters and the general public can report any illegal hunting to the GMA through its website or phone it on 136 186, Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or to Victoria Police.
The GMA and partner compliance agencies, including Victoria Police, DELWP, DEDJTR, Victorian Fisheries Authority and Parks Victoria, will be out in force to ensure compliance with hunting and public safety laws.
Details of the 2018 duck season, including fact sheets in various languages and information about any wetland closures throughout the season, are available at www.gma.vic.gov.au.