Hunting season up in the air

Duck hunting season up in the air

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FRUSTRATED: Shooters have called on the government to open the annual duck hunting season. Photo by Jason South/ACM

FRUSTRATED: Shooters have called on the government to open the annual duck hunting season. Photo by Jason South/ACM

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Hunters have voiced their frustration over the delay of Victoria's duck hunting season.

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Frustrated Victorian hunters have voiced their anger over a Victorian government decision to delay the opening of the state's duck hunting season.

Previously the season has ran between mid-March through to the end of June, however, the government is yet to announce when the season - usually announced in January - will start.

Sporting Shooters' Association of Australia state hunting development manager David Laird labeled the delay "extremely frustrating".

"Duck hunters spend significant amounts of money in regional areas every year," Mr Laird said.

"The state government is calling for people to go back to regional areas, especially those impacted by fires and spend money there, and yet here we have hunters who regularly do that but are being denied the opportunity."

A joint submission lodged by the SSAA and Field & Game Australia in December to the Game Management Authority, responsible for overseeing hunting regulations, recommended the hunting season be shortened and the bag limit be reduced from 10 to six ducks per day for the 2020 season.

Mr Laird said at the time the submission was made Victoria was experiencing a prolonged dry period and duck populations across eastern Australia, except in Victoria, were down.

"We want to see sustainable duck populations, we want to have hunters hunting ducks in perpetuity so sometimes that means there needs to be a reduced season or modifications to make sure that will happen," Mr Laird said.

"But since that recommendation was made it's got wetter and wetter across all of eastern Australia so any concerns about the dry conditions have been alleviated and we've got ideal conditions across the three eastern states."

According to Estimating the economic impact of hunting in Victoria report from 2013, duck hunters spend $99.4 million in the Victorian economy annually.

SSAA Duck Hunters Club secretary Greg Williamson, who regularly hunts with family and friends in the north-west and north-east of the state, said the delay was causing headaches for fellow hunters.

"Our plan this year is to head down to Gippsland because they've been hard hit by bushfires and a loss of tourism and we want to help these communities recover, particularity if they have ducks," Mr Williamson said.

"In terms of the bigger impact, we've got people who will go out many weekends and a few weekends before the season to find out where ducks are so the economic loss is quite significant."

Ministers at loggerheads 

Nationals Party leader Peter Walsh labeled the decision an "ideological issue" for the state government and said Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes and Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio were at loggerheads over the start of the season.

"Jaclyn Symes as the minister for agricultural is the lead minister for hunting in Victoria but my understanding is this whole agenda and debate is being driven by the environment minister who is pandering to the Greens and extreme animal activists who are opposed to duck hunting," Mr Walsh said.

"Hunting in Victoria generates more than $400 million worth of economic activity and a lot of that goes into regional Victoria."

A spokeswoman for Minister Symes rejected claims the two ministers were in disagreement and said a date for the start of the season would be made in "due course".

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