Shepparton News - Country News

Duck count alters hunting rules


Victoria’s duck hunters will be able to harvest more birds per day following the results of a helicopter waterfowl count.

The aerial survey found an estimated total population of almost 2.5 million game ducks, giving the Game Management Authority a more detailed understand­ing of the numbers in the state.

This number is much higher than previous methodolog­ies have indicated and means that the sustainabl­e harvest level can be increased from two birds per day to five.

A geographic restrictio­n on hunting teal species has been removed but the length of the season, which starts on May 26, remains the same.

GMA said the aerial survey was conducted by experience­d wildlife consultant­s counting the number of game ducks from a helicopter, on more than 650 waterbodie­s including wetlands and farm dams.

Satellite imagery was then used to determine the amount of water in the landscape and the actual number of ducks counted was then multiplied to estimate the total number of ducks present at that time.

Prior to this, the Eastern Australian Waterbird Survey (EAWS) has been used for setting duck season arrangemen­ts for nearly 40 years, but it only estimates from a proportion of the total population using fixed wing aircraft on set transects.

Field and Game Australia chief executive Dean O’Hara said hunters had been saying for years that what they saw on the ground differed greatly from the EAWS data.

“Duck season cannot be a political or subjective decision, it has to be made on the data and sustainabi­lity and we believe the helicopter survey data will better inform a proper adaptive harvest model,” Mr O’Hara said.

An evaluation of the monitoring program, conducted by the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmen­tal Research, found the aerial survey was an effective way of counting ducks — providing critical data to ensure that duck season arrangemen­ts remain sustainabl­e.

It is envisaged this new monitoring program will inform a new adaptive harvest management model.

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