A BIG hike in hunting licence fees and flexible duck-hunting hours are amongst the proposed future regulations for recreational hunting in Victoria – and the state government wants feedback from Victorians on the proposals.

The Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions (DJSIR) has developed the proposed ‘Wildlife (Game) Regulations (2024)’ to replace the current ‘Wildlife (Game) Interim Regulations 2023’, which will expire in September 2024.

The government says the proposed regulations have been developed in consultation with hunting groups, animal welfare/advocacy groups, firearm retailers, government agencies, and a Traditional Owner representative body.

The public can have a say by sending a submission by 11.59pm on Monday, July 29.

Proposed changes include an increased hunting licence fee, the duck season to last up to 90 days and non-hunters prohibited from specific areas before 11am.

The fee to either hunt duck only or deer only for 2024-25 will increase to $88.80, a 36 per cent increase from $65.30.

The Sale Field & Game spokesman, Gary Howard, said the measures were reverting back to the old ways. For example, the draft says duck shooting can start half an hour before sunrise for 85 days, and 8am for the first five days of the season, and finish at half an hour after sunset for the entire season.

“That has been the traditional hunting limits. The proposed regulations are fine, but they can still be interfered with and that’s really what we’ve been dealing with. For the last so many years, it’s been manipulated by the (government minister) of the day,” Mr Howard said, who also noted the 90-day season can be shortened by the relevant Minister.

Mr Howard said that Sale Field & Game and individuals within the branch would submit their own feedback.

“I think there will be a lot of interest in this. I can say a number of hunters won’t be happy with particular pieces of it, some others will be quite happy to live with,” he said.

“It’ll be an interesting round of submissions on this subject. I urge all to take time to read the documents.”

Other measures listed include non-Australian residents not having to sit a species ID test and no reduction of the ‘bag limits’ of ducks or quail. Mandatory hunter training will not be implemented at this point.

Many of these measures come in response to the inquiry into Victoria’s recreational native bird hunting arrangements, which recommended a ban on bird hunting but was rejected by the government.

Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting (RVOTDS) called the regulations draft a “disgrace” and “another example of a taxpayer-funded hunting promo”.

Amongst other things, the group is calling for a vast reduction in public hunting areas “to give our wildlife and our communities some peace”.

“When one in four Victorians now live regionally and more people than ever are interested in enjoying their public outdoors, it (is) unacceptable the government has refused to address the fact that hunting is permitted at so many tens of thousands of public areas, they can’t possibly be monitored. Claims of so-called benefits of hunting are false and misleading,” the group said.

“The token fee increase is nowhere near enough to cover the costs of hunting; loss of tourism to regional areas, lost ability for regional residents to work from home, compliance monitoring, hunter “research”… in effect Victorian taxpayers are being forced to fund the killing of their precious wildlife.

“Victorians should be compensated for being locked out of public areas for a quarter of the year. Nearby residents should be compensated for having to live with the noise and mess. Farmers should be compensated for lead and plastic pollution in their produce.

“Why is it that this minority group – less than one percent of the population hunt – are permitted to roam freely with firearms in over 50 per cent of our public lands?”

Head to engage.vic.gov.au/proposed-wildlife-game-regulations-2024-and-regulatory-impact-statement to read the documents and make a submission.