Crackdown on illegal hunting
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 www.gma.vic.gov.au 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.