Duck hunting season under way

By Alana Christensen

Thousands of duck hunters turned out for the opening weekend of the season despite reduced bag limits, although initial reports predict numbers are set to be down on previous years.

The opening weekend saw hunters limited to a daily bag of four game ducks, and a later start time for the second year in a row.

As happened last year, hunting started at 9am on Saturday and 8am on Sunday across the whole of Victoria as part of a two-year trial to ensure an orderly start to the season.

A number of wetlands were closed for the start and remainder of the season, limiting options for many hunters around northern Victoria.

Lake Elizabeth near Kerang will also be closed until this weekend to protect a significant population of freckled ducks found on the lake.

The lake will be monitored during its seven-day closure to determine if it will remain closed to hunting for a longer period.

Due to the high number of threatened freckled duck at the lake, it will not be recommended to reopen unless numbers decline, the Victorian Government announced last week.

The Lake Murphy State Game Reserve near Kerang, Round Lake near Lake Boga, Kow Swamp near Gunbower and Reedy Lakes at Kerang were all closed from the start of the season to protect or prevent disturbance to significant numbers of threatened birds.

Game Management Authority chief executive officer Graeme Ford said closing wetlands or prohibiting hunting from a boat ensured that threatened species were protected and duck hunting remained sustainable.

Protestors again had a presence at many wetlands across the opening weekend, turning to social media to call for a ban to duck hunting.

For the rest of the season, hunting times will revert to the standard period of between 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset.

The season closes 30 minutes after sunset on Sunday, May 19, a reduction of three weeks on the standard 12-week season.

Hunters are reminded they are required to immediately retrieve any ducks they shoot and ensure they harvest at least the breast meat from the duck.

GMA game officers, Victoria Police and other authorised officers from DELWP; Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions; Victorian Fisheries Authority; and Parks Victoria will be patrolling wetlands across the state during the duck season to ensure hunters act in a safe and responsible manner.

■For more information on the duck season, visit: