Heywood Lake is set to reopen for the 2016 duck hunting season on Sunday, April 24 after a conservation monitoring program initiated by Victoria’s Game Management Authority.
When the duck campaign started on March 19, the State Government’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning in conjunction with the GMA deemed that the lake, situated south-west of Boundary Bend in Narrung, would be out of bounds to duck hunters. This was initially due to fears over the presence of blue-green algae. However, surveys of the surrounds then revealed a healthy proportion of blue-billed ducks, which is an endangered species. In the interest of protecting the birds, the GMA felt it was imperative to keep them free for any unintentional disturbances from licence-carrying hunters.
This move highlighted how conservation together with regulated and sustainable hunting practices can work hand in hand to facilitate such delicate environmental issues. The hunters were only too happy to comply in light of the findings. Since then, regular surveillance on the lake has found that the threatened blue-billed duck numbers have fallen off dramatically. So with the problem no longer relevant, the area has now been classified as appropriate for duck hunting once more.
Elsewhere in Victoria, part of Lake Toolondo Reservoir south-west of Horsham and Johnson Swamp together with Lake Elizabeth State Game Reserves near Kerang are still closed to hunting to protect rare and threatened species. Kow Swamp near Gunbower and Reedy Lakes near Kerang will stay off-limits to hunters to bolster their sanctuary standings.
All closed wetlands will continue to be assessed by State Government officials for the rest of the duck hunting season. Any of these may be re-opened to hunting at any stage if sightings of threatened birds drop off significantly or if they are found to have switched to other locations.
Meanwhile, hunters are reminded that the blue-winged shoveler must not be targeted during this season. They must also note that the daily bag limit is four birds for the rest of the campaign, which runs until June 13.