The first Game Reserve declared in South Australia will remain closed to hunters during the 2017 Duck Season.
In other development hunters will also have a reduced bag of 10 instead of 12 ducks per day and hardhead and blue-winged shoveler are excluded from the list of game birds that can be taken during the season.
In 1967, Bool Lagoon was dedicated as a Game Reserve under the Fauna Conservation Act 1964, and hunters have contributed significantly to conservation works over the decades but have not had the opportunity to hunt there
since the 1990s.
SA Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Ian Hunter attributed the closure of Bool Lagoon last season to prevailing climatic conditions. Conditions have improved markedly ahead of the 2017 Duck Season and on November 10, Natural Resources South East released a media statement after record flows filled the wetland.
“Bool Lagoon is raucous with breeding waterfowl, frogs and other wildlife,” Natural Resources South East Lower South East District Manager Ross Anderson said.
“We haven’t seen water like this at the park this century, and being more ecologically diverse than Kakadu, it’s well worth a visit.”
Hunting is not in conflict with the Ramsar principle of Wise Use of Wetlands. Therefore, given the prevailing conditions, does the failure to open Bool Lagoon signify a clear intent to lock out hunters regardless of any facts or data? Does its status as a Game Reserve and the decade’s long contribution of duck hunters to its conservation count for nothing?
Field & Game Australia is seeking answers to these important questions and clarification of the basis for excluding game species. Had Field & Game Australia been included as a stakeholder as requested we would not have encouraged exclusion without compelling reasons.
Some common sense has prevailed with the South Australian Duck Season commencing at sunrise on Saturday February 18, 2017, avoiding a repeat of 2016 when the opening clashed with Victoria.
Moving the date back two weeks will again provide regional communities in South Australia with the economic stimulus provided by hunters travelling from both metropolitan areas and interstate, as well as allowing SA hunters to participate in the Victorian opening. The Victorian Government study in 2014 showed hunting all species generated $439 million, the majority of this to regional communities.
Bucks Lake will also be closed to hunting during the season, which ends on Sunday June 25.
The following reasoning was presented for the modified 2017 season;
“In summary, there are large areas of favourable wetland habitat. This would indicate a future increase in duck numbers can be expected. However coupled with lowest-on-record bird numbers and a high breeding index generated from one EAAWS survey band only, a precautionary approach is warranted.”
Last week FGA provided its assessment for healthy wetlands and waterfowl populations in 2017 and beyond. The submission highlighted the critical importance of habitat, not hunting, to sustained waterbird populations, including ducks. The improvement in conditions and habitat have been exciting to observe, with waterbird breeding a demonstration of their highly adaptive response.
This breeding event combined with overwhelming areas of wetland highlights the challenges of monitoring nomadic waterfowl, and underpins the call by FGA to increase the commitment to gathering data and evidence.
2017 Duck Season - South Australia
Open season across the state is for the following duck species:
Grey teal, chestnut teal, Pacific black duck, mountain duck, wood duck and pink-eared duck.
A total bag limit of 10 ducks per hunter per day applies.
Blue-winged) shoveler and Hardhead is not able to be hunted in the 2017 duck open season because waterfowl surveys undertaken across South Australia indicate that the population trends for these species do not enable sustainable hunting in 2017.