THE Game Management Authority (GMA) has outlined the arrangements for the 2018 duck season, including changes made by the government to hunting regulations.
The 2018 season will commence on Saturday, March 17, and will last 12 weeks, closing on Monday, June 11.
The bag limit will remain at the standard 10 birds per person per day.
However, like last year, the hunting of the Blue-winged Shoveler will be prohibited due to persistent low numbers of the species.
GMA chair Brian Hine said staff had worked tirelessly throughout 2017 in consultation with hunting, animal welfare and conservation stakeholders, departments and the government to strengthen duck hunting regulation in Victoria.
“The greatest challenge to regulating duck hunting occurs on the opening weekend of the season,’’ he said.
‘‘Last year’s opening weekend saw some hunters engage in entirely unacceptable behaviour including early shooting, shooting protected species and failing to retrieve shot birds.
‘‘As a result, changes are being made ahead of the 2018 duck season.
“As Victoria’s hunting regulator, GMA’s key objective is to promote sustainability and responsibility in game hunting in Victoria.
‘‘The behaviour of some hunters on the opening weekend of the 2017 season was neither responsible nor sustainable.’’
Mr Hine said a key change for the 2018 opening weekend is hunting will commence at 9am on Saturday and 8am on Sunday across the state as part of a trial of opening the season during daylight hours.
For the rest of the season, hunting times will revert to the standard period of half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset.
Mr Hine said new regulations will also be introduced to formalise what is already standard practice for the majority of responsible hunters.
“Hunters will now be required to retrieve all game ducks that they shoot and will be required to at least salvage the breast meat from a duck to ensure that harvested game is not wasted,’’ he said.
In February, the GMA will also raise the minimum pass mark for the Waterfowl Identification Test from 75 to 85 per cent.
Hunters applying for a duck hunting game licence will need to meet this higher score in order to obtain their licence.
The GMA and partner compliance agencies, including Victoria Police, DELWP, DEDJTR, and Parks Victoria, will be out in force in 2018 to ensure compliance with hunting and public safety laws.
The GMA will continue to monitor conditions in the lead up to and during the season.
Where warranted, wetlands can be closed to hunting to protect significant concentrations of threatened waterbirds.
Details of the 2018 duck season, including fact sheets and information about any wetland closures, will be available on the GMA website in due course.
Hunters and the general public are urged to report any illegal hunting to the GMA through its website gma.vic.gov.au or calling 136 186 or by contacting Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or Victoria Police.