Duck season 2017 announced
The Victorian Government has announced a full-length duck hunting season with a bag limit of 10 birds per day. On Tuesday, January 3 Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford confirmed the season would open on Saturday, March 18 and run until Monday, June 12, as per the Wildlife Regulations 2012.
Game Management Authority research concluded that last winter’s rainfall resulted in a significant increase in waterbird breeding and extensive and widespread habitat availability. The conditions have allowed game ducks to breed for a second time and disperse widely across the landscape.
“Duck season is a customary trip away for many families and is an important economic contributor to the rural economy, bringing 26,000 licensed duck hunters to small towns and regional centres across the state,” Minister Pulford said.
“Environmental conditions, waterfowl habitat availability, duck population distribution and abundance are reviewed each year to ensure hunting continues to be a sustainable recreation for future generations.”
In its submission to the Game Management Authority, SSAA Victoria urged the Victorian Government to refrain from modifying bag limits, season dates or timings because “current and predicted environmental conditions for 2016-17 mitigate against the use of such powers”.
The submission highlighted the comparatively high rainfall recorded last year and questioned the validity of the Kingsford et al survey.
“While the Kingsford et al survey indicates that a reduction in birds has been detected, in actuality there is such an abundance of water that bird populations have migrated to areas not covered by the survey,” the submission said.
“Overall, though the index of waterbird abundance continues to show a decrease in bird numbers while the wetland area index has recovered, the reality is likely to be that the aerial survey has simply failed to detect birds in abundance, in non-flight path areas.”
While the bag limit and length of the season are welcome news, the hunting of the Blue-Winged Shoveler will be prohibited this season due to supposed low numbers of the species. Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party Member for the Northern Victoria Region Daniel Young said the decision to ban hunting of Blue-Winged Shovelers fell short of hunters’ expectations. “Duck hunters are bitterly disappointed the Victorian Government has decided to restrict the hunting of Blue-Winged Shovelers without cause or reason,” he said.
For several years SSAA Victoria and its partner organisations have called for the Victorian Government to undertake more extensive research into wild duck populations and habitats. The recent launch of the Sustainable Hunting Action Plan commits to funding for a new Waterfowl Conservation Harvest Model, which should lead to more accurate studies ahead of the next duck hunting season.