News

Hunters investigated

By Country News

Three different groups of men have been interviewed, have had their firearms seized and will be further investigated for allegedly committing a number of illegal spotlighting, firearm, driving and shooting protected wildlife-related offences in north-east Victoria recently.

Game Management Authority’s compliance and intelligence director Paul Stevens said GMA officers teamed up with Victoria Police officers from Bright, Whitfield and Wangaratta to target illegal hunting activity.

‘‘Enforcement teams patrolled in areas such as Buckland and Buffalo Valley, Rose River, Edi Upper, Myrrhee, Whitfield and Tolmie, where members of the community had made many reports of illegal hunting activity occurring at night,’’ Mr Stevens said.

‘‘During the early hours of the morning, GMA officers interviewed a total of eight men in relation to offences including possessing a firearm and spotlight in deer habitat, hunting game at night and shooting protected wildlife.

‘‘A total of five firearms, nearly 500 live rounds of ammunition, 10 high powered torches and spotlights, one thermal imaging unit and a number of dead protected animal species, including possums and birds, were seized by GMA officers and police.’’

Mr Stevens said the GMA, Victoria Police and partner agencies would continue to work together to target illegal spotlighting in Victoria.

‘‘Unless you are authorised to do so, deer must not be hunted at night. It is dangerous and can put people and wildlife at risk,’’ Mr Stevens said.

‘‘Native wildlife must not be hunted unless a permit has been attained. There are heavy penalties for those who choose to illegally do so.

‘‘Illegal spotlighting and irresponsible behaviour will not be tolerated. People need to make sure that they are familiar with the laws and are not hunting illegally.’’

■Hunters and the public are urged to report any illegal hunting to the GMA through its website: www.gma.vic.gov.au or the Customer Service Centre on 136186 or by contacting Victoria Police.