Duck hunting on Lake Boort will continue with the first detailed management plan for the reserve reflecting that hunting and the desire to protect and promote its natural and cultural values are not at odds.
Duck hunting has been permitted at Lake Boort for many years, and will continue to be permitted during declared duck hunting seasons under the new management plan released by Parks Victoria in partnership with Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation.
In season, duck hunting will not be restricted across the wetland but camping will be, with designated areas with fireplaces established to protect sensitive areas.
The intent of the plan is to protect and enhance the outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values within the reserve and it defines the approach for managing the cultural landscape, ecosystems, fire, water, pest plants and animals, recreation and tourism.
The 502 ha Lake Boort Reserve is a special place for the Dja Dja Wurrung, and is believed to hold the highest density of scarred trees in Australia, which will be a focus of research, interpretation and cultural tourism experiences.
The plan recognises the opportunity to enhance existing partnerships with hunting organisations such as Field & Game Australia (FGA) and with other volunteers to improve game habitat.
Lake Boort is being restored as a temporary flood plain lake with the delivery of environmental watering. Until 1997 the lake was maintained as a permanent water body, and duck hunting was popular.
The change in the water regime and the millennium drought resulted in less duck hunting over several seasons, but natural flooding in 2011 resulted in good hunting seasons in 2012, 2013, and 2017.
The seasonal watering plan proposed by the North Central Catchment Management Authority would provide water to Lake Boort in spring about once every five years, depending on the availability of water.
The wetting-drying water regime will increase the productivity of the wetland and benefit game habitat but according to the plan, it is unlikely the timing of environmental watering will result in sufficient water during the duck hunting season to attract significant numbers of waterbirds, except in years where significant natural flows occur.
“It is therefore likely that a good hunting season would be likely at Lake Boort once or twice during every four to six years,” the plan states.
The plan acknowledges that during wetter years, the opening weekend is likely to attract significant numbers of hunters and will need to be managed to minimise adverse impacts on cultural sites and natural values.
One of the stated goals is to raise awareness of the cultural values:
“Working in partnership with the Game Management Authority, Field & Game Australia and the Traditional Owners to communicate the cultural heritage values of Lake Boort (and other regional wetlands) to duck hunters who hunt here, and to regional duck hunting groups.”
This includes promoting a minimal impact code and codes of behaviour.
FGA made a formal submission on behalf of members following the release of the initial draft plan for Lake Boort.