Crack­down on il­le­gal hunt­ing

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

The statu­tory au­thor­ity re­spon­si­ble for the reg­u­la­tion of game hunt­ing in Vic­to­ria will raise a min­i­mum pass mark for a Wa­ter­fowl Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Test from 75 to 85 per­cent next month.

Game Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity is lift­ing the pass mark to en­sure a higher stan­dard of hunter bird-iden­ti­fi­ca­tion skills.

All hunters ap­ply­ing for a duck-hunt­ing game li­cence will also need a 100 per­cent pass mark when iden­ti­fy­ing pro­tected species dur­ing the test.

The changes are set to come into force in the wake of two Bal­larat men plead­ing guilty in St Ar­naud Mag­is­trate’s Court for be­ing in pos­ses­sion of a threat­ened wa­ter­bird dur­ing last year’s duck sea­son.

Both men re­ceived $750 fines and will have to re­sit the Wa­ter­fowl Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Test to re­new their game li­cences.

Of­fi­cers in­spected the hunters’ ducks at Wooroonook camp­ing ground dur­ing the open­ing week­end of the 2017 duck-hunt­ing sea­son.

Dur­ing the in­spec­tion, the of­fi­cers dis­cov­ered the men were in pos­ses­sion of a par­tially plucked freck­led duck, a threat­ened species il­le­gal to hunt in Vic­to­ria.

Game Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity chief ex­ec­u­tive Greg Hyams said both men stated they had mis­tak­enly iden­ti­fied the duck as a black duck, re­trieved it from the wa­ter and in­cluded it as part of their bag.

“Fail­ure to cor­rectly iden­tify pro­tected wildlife or shoot­ing or re­triev­ing a non-game species is un­ac­cept­able and can re­sult in sig­nif­i­cant fines, for­fei­ture of equip­ment and loss of game and firearms li­cences,” he said.

Mr Hyams en­cour­aged hunters to take ad­van­tage of ‘world-class’ ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing ma­te­ri­als the GMA pro­vided and to plan ahead and re­fresh their bird-iden­ti­fi­ca­tion skills be­fore the 2018 duck-hunt­ing sea­son.

“The Duck WISE ed­u­ca­tional video is avail­able in HD DVD and there is a prac­tice test on the GMA web­site so hunters can prac­tice be­fore sit­ting the test and re­vise reg­u­larly to main­tain their iden­ti­fi­ca­tion skills,” he said.

“Hunters who want to re­ally test their iden­ti­fi­ca­tion skills are also en­cour­aged to re­sit the wa­ter­fowl test from time to time, es­pe­cially if it has been a while since they went duck hunt­ing.”

The GMA’S web­site also has A Guide to Aus­tralian Wa­ter­fowl, which in­cludes di­a­grams on Vic­to­ria’s game ducks with im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion on their dis­tri­bu­tion and habi­tat, and colour di­a­grams of key iden­ti­fy­ing fea­tures, in­clud­ing im­ages of game ducks in flight.

The Duck WISE video also con­tains im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion on how to hunt pro­fi­ciently and safely.

The 12-week, 2018 duck-hunt­ing sea­son starts at 9am on Satur­day, March 17 and closes on Mon­day, June 11.

A bag limit will re­main at the stan­dard 10 birds a per­son a day, how­ever, hunt­ing of the blue-winged shov­eler will be pro­hib­ited due to low num­bers of the species.

Mr Hyams said au­thor­i­ties would be out in force in 2018 to en­sure com­pli­ance with hunt­ing and pub­lic safety laws.

Peo­ple can re­port il­le­gal hunt­ing to the au­thor­ity through its web­site or by call­ing 136 186, Crime Stop­pers on 1800 333 000, or Vic­to­ria Po­lice.

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