Victoria will have a full duck season in 2017 and an unmodified bag limit of 10 birds per day.
Victorian Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford confirmed that the season will commence on Saturday 18 March, and will last 12 weeks, closing on Monday 12 June.
The bag limit, as per standing regulations, will remain at 10 birds per hunter per day. The hunting of the Blue-winged Shoveler, however, will be prohibited due to the low numbers of the species.
“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," Ms 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.”
Field & Game Australia welcomes the Victorian Government’s announcement that Victoria will have a full-length duck season this year.
FGA is also pleased to note that the bag limit set out in Victorian legislation is unchanged for the 2017 season, reflecting the significant breeding event brought on by availability of water and habitat across much of the continent.
Water and breeding habitat are the major drivers of wild duck populations in Australia, not sustainable hunting.
While hunting of Australasian (Blue-winged) shoveler is prohibited for 2017, the bag limit of 10 ducks per day will provide many opportunities for hunters who, according to a 2013 report commissioned by the Victorian Government, contribute $439 million to the Victorian economy. The majority of that money is spent in regional Victoria.
FGA Chairman Rob Treble said, “We welcome a largely unmodified season in 2017, reductions to bag limits have little demonstrated impact on the number of ducks harvested each year which, according to official harvest data, continues to remain steady at approximately four birds per hunter per day hunted.”
“A return to an unmodified bag limit will encourage hunters to revisit their favourite spots to sustainably harvest wild food for their table and regional communities will benefit from that increased visitation.”
Australia’s ducks are highly nomadic, moving around the continent in response to rainfall events and changing habitat, favouring coastal estuaries, rivers and wetlands. Suitable habitat over a vast area has dispersed duck populations during the 2016/17 breeding cycle leading to lower numbers of observed game birds through the current model of aerial surveys flying fixed transects.
FGA, which has 17 000 volunteer members, has observed the same wide dispersal during ground surveys, again highlighting the difficulty of trying to count and monitor a highly nomadic and dynamic duck population. Both aerial and ground surveys demonstrate the fallibility of current observation methods rather than demonstrating a diminishing duck population.
For some time, FGA has promoted a different approach to addressing the setting of conditions for duck hunting, through establishing an effective management model based on science specifically developed for the purpose of managing a dynamic wild population.
FGA continues to work collaboratively with government agencies as it has since forming in 1958, striving for development and implementation of a robust, effective management model for the harvest of wild game.
The Government recently launched its Sustainable Hunting Action Plan which includes funding for the implementation of a new Waterfowl Conservation Harvest Model which it said will provide an even stronger scientific and evidence-based approach to the sustainable management of Victoria’s game duck populations in future years.
Rob Treble said “although the exclusion of the Blue-winged shoveler is a minor disappointment, i hope all duck hunters will have a good season and hunt in accordance with the RESPECT program, a joint initiative of Government, the hunting industry, FGA and other hunting organisations”
‘We also want a season where consistent management actions are applied, avoiding the extreme caution that saw the snap closures of wetlands in 2016 which had a direct impact on hunters and regional economies”
Regulated 2017 Duck Seasons have been announced for Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania and the Northern Territory has just completed another successful Duck and Magpie Goose Season.