CLYDEBANK Morass State Game Reserve near Clydebank, and an area of Dowd Morass State Game Reserve near Longford, reopened to duck hunting at 8am yesterday (Monday, May 20).

These two areas had originally been shut down at the start of the duck season on Wednesday, April 10 for the protection of certain bird species. Lake Boort at Boort in the northern part of the state has also been reopened.

The state government gave this notice last Friday morning, while at the same time announcing a closure of Lake Lonsdale near Stawell in western Victoria to hunting from Saturday, May 18 due to the presence of a significant number of threatened Freckled Duck.

The Game Management Authority (GMA) and Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) have been regularly monitoring the wetlands.

Recent surveys detected a significant number of freckled duck at Lake Lonsdale. The species can be difficult to differentiate from game ducks and they often fly in mixed flocks, which can put them at risk of being mistakenly shot.

Signs will be installed at Lake Lonsdale alerting hunters to the closure, and Authorised Officers will continue to patrol the wetland.

Recent monitoring has also shown that the threatened grey-headed flying-foxes previously present at Lake Boort have relocated, and blue-winged shoveler at Clydebank Morass have significantly declined in number. The breeding event at Dowd Morass has ended. As the reason for these closures no longer exists, these wetlands will be reopened to hunting.

Sale Field & Game spokesman, Gary Howard had previously criticised the GMA for closing Clydebank Morass and Dowd Morass with just a few days notice. In a chat with the Gippsland Times last week, he gave the organisation credit for “doing the legwork.”

“We’ve looked ourselves – the birds (at Dowd Morass) that were nesting there have finished and the fledglings have flown,” he said.

“Probably about 80 per cent of the reserve was open for hunting, it was just one small section (closed) where these birds were nesting.

“And there’s definitely no blue-winged (shoveler) on Clydebank Morass.”

Mr Howard described Dowd Morass as a “mecca” for many duck hunters.

“You’ve got to hunt Dowd Morass at some point in your life,” he said.

“And whereas at Clydebank, the water is not as permanent as Dowds, but it’s still a very popular and large area of the state game reserve that’s open for hunting.”

Wetlands or parts of wetlands may be closed to duck hunting or be further regulated by the GMA to protect concentrations of threatened species from disturbance or being mistakenly shot. Colonies of breeding waterbirds that are disturbed can abandon their nests and chicks. Other wetlands closed for duck hunting in the Gippsland region include Andersons Inlet near Inverloch to protect the orange-bellied parrot, and Lake Wat Wat near Orbost to protect the blue-winged shoveler (both closed fully).

Hunters are reminded to check the GMA website regularly for updates before they go hunting, as the wetlands continue to be monitored. The hunting start time is 8am for every day of the 2024 duck season, with the daily bag limit six birds per day. Hunting of the blue-winged shoveler and hardhead is prohibited.

Mr Howard said that some hunters were finding the 8am starts “difficult”.

“(The birds) tend to move at daylight… off into protected areas and come eight o’clock… they’re become settled and quite happy where they are,” he said.

For more information on the duck season and wetland closures or partial closures for the 2024 duck hunting season, visit gma.vic.gov.au