Last week’s announcement by the state government and the Game Management Authority on the 2019 Duck Season has drawn fire from all quarters, attracting criticism from the Sporting Shooters Association, the RSCPA and Field and Game Australia.

Prevailing and persistent dry conditions across eastern Australia has reduced duck numbers, breeding and wetland habitat in Victoria according to the GMA.

As a result, they have advised the Victorian government that a modified season was necessary to reduce the seasonal harvest, to ensure duck hunting is conducted responsibly and duck numbers remain sustainable.

The duck season with will last nine weeks, previously 12, starting on Saturday, March 16 with hunters restricted to lower bag limits based on analysis of habitat and waterbird surveys conducted across eastern Australia.

The SSAA has responded requesting that game hunting licence fees should be refunded, due to a restricted duck hunting season, and that the decision was not based on sound science according to SSAA Victoria Hunting Development Manager, David Laird.

“A significant duck population is present in Victoria and could sustain a regular season with no threat to the sustainability of the bird population,” he said.

While RSPCA CEO Liz Walker said they had advised the government to cancel the 2019 season due to declining duck populations, inevitable animal cruelty and concerns  the season cannot be adequately regulated by the GMA.

This is despite the state government boosting funding to the GMA, to ensure hunting remains safe, responsible and sustainable with a $6 million boost over four years for improved enforcement and stakeholder engagement, along with a new Game Licensing system.

“We acknowledge that the government has announced modifications in the form of a reduced season-length and bag limits, however, we believe these restrictions don’t go far enough,” Dr Walker said.

“Based on the available evidence, RSPCA Victoria is still urging the government to reconsider its decision and cancel this year’s duck hunting season.”

Field and Game CEO Richard Light said all the state government has achieved with this announcement is to further increase the economic hardship on regional Victoria, by reducing the time and incentive for hunters to spend money in struggling regional centres.

Hunters will be restricted to four game ducks per day on the opening weekend, with a five game duck per day bag limit for the remainder of the nine week season.

The hunting of blue-winged shoveler will again be prohibited throughout the entire season.

– Nick Atyeo