The final duck season of the year will begin tomorrow in Victoria. South Australia and Tasmania have already begun with positive opening weekends reported. Despite the usual grumblings of under-informed anti-hunting protestors, Victoria is expected to follow suit.
SSAA National Wildlife Program Leader Matthew Godson said most hunters at the South Australian opening were able to get a feed of healthy, organic wild duck from most state game reserves. “The bird numbers from the field in South Australia were much higher than some surveys suggested, indicating duck counts didn’t record ducks that dispersed due to widespread flooding late last year,” he said.
While there are many indicators that show ducks are at sustainable levels, the Game Management Authority (GMA) has decided to err on the side of caution, opting to close four wetlands for the Victorian open season. These include Lake Natimuk and Natimuk Creek Lake Reserve because of a large number of freckled duck, Lake Muirhead State Game Reserve because of a significant number of breeding brolga, Big Reedy Lagoon State Game Reserve because of a significant amount of great egret, and Tower Hill State Game Reserve will be partially closed due to a large number of blue-billed duck, however this will only apply to the western half of the lake.
Similarly, the GMA has decided to prohibit the use of motor boats for duck hunting at Lake Linlithgow for the 2017 Victorian season. GMA CEO Greg Hyams said the decision was made because 500 to 600 blue-billed ducks were located at the lakes. “While the use of motor boats will be prohibited, hunting can still continue around the lake shoreline while giving an increased level of protection to blue-billed ducks,” he said.
Mr Hyams said closing wetlands during duck season is a safeguard that ensures risks to threatened species are managed. “These wetlands may be opened to hunting if circumstances and the number of threatened birds reduce in number or they move to other locations,” he said.
The GMA has also reminded hunters to act responsibly for the start of the Victorian duck season. Mr Hyams encouraged hunters to observe all relevant laws and to take the time to educate new and junior hunters. “Victoria has a long tradition of duck hunting and hunters generate significant economic activity in Victorian rural towns and regional centres,” he said.
The SSAA wishes all hunters a happy, safe and successful duck season. Don’t forget to check the opening and closing dates for each season as well as what bird species you can and can’t hunt before you head out.