Duck hunters have welcomed the return of the standard 10-bird bag, following the Victorian Government’s announcement of the 2017 duck hunting season.
The season will begin on Saturday, March 18 and will last 12 weeks, closing on Monday, June 12.
Duck numbers have been buoyed by significant rainfall last winter, resulting in increased numbers.
Yet the hunting of the blue-winged shoveler will be banned due to low numbers of the species.
Field and Game Australia chairman Rob Treble said he welcomed the announcement of the season but was ‘‘disappointed’’ about the decision to not allow the hunting of the blue-winged shoveler.
‘‘In the past, modified seasons have been shown to have little impact on the population numbers ... on average, hunters only bag four ducks a day on about four days of the year,’’ Mr Treble said.
Hunter Steve Threlfall said he was expecting a ‘‘really good’’ hunting season due to great rainfall and high water levels in hunting areas, but did call for the announcement to come earlier.
‘‘As a duck hunter it would be ideal to have the announcement earlier, closer to November to allow time to prepare,’’ Mr Threlfall said.
Mr Treble also called for greater consistency surrounding the duck hunting season, following the closure of five wetlands for the 2016 season.
‘‘We want a season where consistent management actions are applied, avoiding the extreme caution that caused the snap closures of wetlands in 2016 which had a direct impact on hunters and regional economies.’’
With the ban on blue-winged shoveler and dispersed populations, Mr Treble said he encouraged hunters to come prepared and to brush up on their identification skills.
‘‘We’d like to see hunters get out and enjoy the season, in accordance with the RESPECT program (to respect animals, the hunt, the environment, non-hunters, other hunters and the laws), a joint initiative with the government, hunting industry, FGA and other hunting organisations,’’ he said.
While hunters are gearing up for the season, Animals Australia said the duck hunting season would result in declining duck populations in the future.
‘‘A recreational season will in all likelihood kill a huge portion of the young birds bred last year and seriously impede what should have been some respite for these depleted populations,’’ Animal Australia executive director Glenys Oogjes said.
- Alana Christensen