News

Hunter numbers down

By Country News

The start of this year’s duck hunting season has seen hunter numbers fall by a third, with government officials kept busy by a number of offences across the state.

Officials were present at 31 major wetlands at the start of the season as 1300 hunters took to wetlands around the state, with two hunters reported for exceeding the four-duck bag limit, while seven other hunters were reported for hunting without a valid game licence, according to a Game Management Authority (GMA) spokesperson.

Another 12 hunters were reported for a number of offences including being in possession of a toxic shot, failing to make all reasonable attempts to retrieve a downed bird, failing to retain a wing of a harvested duck and illegal destruction of protected wildlife.

Hunters were also reported for using a firearm without a valid firearms licence, hunting from a moving boat, using a firearm in a dangerous manner under the influence of alcohol, failing to wear a life jacket and driving off-road.

Penalties for these offences included the seizure of firearms, and a number of infringement notices were issued.

Some of the matters may also proceed to court, a GMA spokesperson said.

‘‘The majority of protester activity occurred on the Saturday (of the opening weekend) with approximately 150 protesters at Lake Cullen near Kerang,’’ a GMA spokesperson said.

‘‘Sunday had lower numbers of protesters, with approximately 100 at Lake Cullen and two at Dollinoke Swap near Horsham.’’

Three protesters were arrested at Lake Straun near Lismore in the state’s west by Victoria Police and will be processed for entering a specified hunting area during prohibited times and failing to follow directions of authorised officers.

‘‘These are only preliminary results as we are now carefully considering evidence of other alleged offences,’’ a GMA spokesperson said.

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

The Game Management Authority reminded all Victorians to act safely, responsibly and legally for the remainder of the duck hunting season.

The nine-week duck hunting season will close on Sunday, May 19, three weeks earlier than usual.

A bag limit of five game ducks per hunter per day is in place for the remainder of the season.

■For more information on the duck season and wetland closures, visit: www.gma.vic.gov.au