Hunting in Victoria has received two big boons recently with Parks Victoria announcing 90,000 hectares of Alpine National Park is set to be opened up for deer hunting and that the state’s 200 Game Reserves will receive uniform and proper signage for the first time ever. These changes were first outlined in the Sustainable Hunting Action Plan (SHAP), which was released back in 2016. While there have been criticisms of a lack of action in regards to the SHAP so far, fulfilling these promises seems to be a good sign that progress is starting to be made.
The two announcements were particularly welcome after the puzzling decision to push back the start time of the Victorian duck season to 9am on opening day, which created some doubt about the Victorian Government’s commitment to hunting. The future of the $439 million-dollar hunting industry in Victoria seems to be strong for now though with duck hunters conducting themselves extremely well during the opening weekend of the season and the imminent improvements for Victorian hunting.
SSAA Victoria Hunting Development Manager David Laird said it was a positive step that showed Parks Victoria was committed to delivering better outcomes for hunters.
“The appointment of a dedicated person with Parks Victoria to implement the Action Plan has obviously made a considerable difference. This is a sensible decision and the Association is pleased to see the government delivering on its commitments under the SHAP.”
“With high deer numbers throughout most of their range, the Association encourages members to make the most of this opportunity and explore the new area. If the opportunity arises, take a hind for meat to fill the freezer,” he said.
According to Parks Victoria, this addition will see one of the biggest access improvements for deer hunters in more than 30 years.
“Previous legislation was specific in only allowing the hunting of sambar deer; hunters will now be allowed to hunt red deer, fallow deer, chital deer, hog deer and rusa deer in addition to sambar. Seasonal restrictions and a tag system continue to be in place for the hunting of hog deer,” said Mr Laird.
While hunters are clearly excited at the prospect of being able to target more deer, the Parks Victoria commitment to updating signage should not be discounted as a strong indicator that hunting is being taken seriously and with an eye to the future.
“Explicit signage is both an important information and education tool to show the general public that hunting and hunters can coexist with other recreational activities on public land,” said SSAA National Wildlife Officer Matt Godson.
Mr Larid agrees and says the new signage will alleviate uncertainty and ensure hunters can gain legal access to the reserves.
“Uniform signage will make it easier for hunters and the general public to know where hunting is allowed. This will reduce confusion, better enable hunters to comply with legislation and reduce complaints where well-meaning people genuinely believe that hunters are shooting in prohibited areas,” he said.
It’s understood the signage will also clearly mark access points and routes to game reserves. This will be especially helpful to hunters exploring new terrain, since a number of routes to reserves follow unmarked roads that can appear to be private property or fully fenced off.
“The signage project is a very positive step that shows Parks Victoria is beginning to deliver on its responsibilities and has engaged with hunting organisations to have meaningful input,” said Mr Laird.
SSAA Victoria and SSAA National are extremely pleased that progress is being made on the SHAP and look forward to seeing the signs on the ground by the end of the financial year.
Along with these changes, the SHAP also includes commitments to reduce red tape regarding where hunters can hunt, stop nonsensical rules like prohibiting hunters from utilising meat from game or pests they hunt and enable hunters to carry out pest control in state game reserves. The SHAP will be in effect until the end of 2020 so more positive policy changes are definitely on the cards.