IN THE NEWS: On JAN 3, 2017
DUCK hunters have been given the go-ahead for the 2017 season in Victoria and will be allowed to bag more birds this year.
Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford confirmed the hunting period will open on Saturday March 18 until June 12.
Hunters will be limited to 10 birds per person a day after surveys by the Game Management Authority found strong rainfall had boosted bird populations.
The bag limit has increased from 2016, which allowed only eight birds per hunter on opening day and four on every other day of the season, however the announcement is expected to attract criticism from anti-hunting groups.
Ms Pulford defended the decision saying the annual season is important to the Victorian economy.
“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,’’ she 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.”
“Hunters are reminded to act safely and responsibly at all times while hunting this year.”
The hunting of the Blue-winged Shoveler will continue to be prohibited due to the low numbers of the species.
Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party MP Daniel Young welcomed the announcement but hit out at the timing.
“Whilst the Premier makes statements that he supports duck hunting, his government has a funny way of showing it by again waiting until January until making an announcement for the season,’’ he said.
“It has been evident since late November that conditions are ideal for a full season, as legislated. “So, one has to ask why the Government took so long to confirm what was already known.’’
RSPCA Victoria CEO Greg O’Brien said the agency was “disappointed’’ by the government’s decision and urged the Minister to reconsider.
“In 2016, hunters were allowed to kill 4 birds on the opening day of the season, and 8 birds each day thereafter. In 2017, the bag limit will be 10 ducks per person per day,’’ he said.
“The RSPCA is opposed to the hunting of any animal for sport as it causes unnecessary injury, pain, suffering, distress or death to the animals involved.’’
Animals Australia executive director Glenys Oogjes also condemned the decision saying the Bureau of Meteorology had predicted a longer and hotter summer which would deliver a devastating blow for bird populations along with the hunting season.
“The hot and dry conditions will likely destroy the habitat waterbirds need to breed, which, combined with hunting, could have an irreversible effect on bird numbers,” she said.