IN THE NEWS: On JAN 18, 2013
The Coalition Against Duck Shooting will attempt to have hunters prosecuted for cruelty this duck season if shooters do not immediately retrieve wounded birds.
Victoria will have a full 12-week duck hunting season again this year beginning on Saturday March 16, the Baillieu Government announced today.
Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh said "above-average rainfall between 2010 and 2012 had significantly increased game duck numbers throughout eastern Australia".
"Game duck numbers are at their fourth highest level in 30 years," he said.
Coalition Against Duck Shooting campaign director, Laurie Levy, said the duck season announcement was disappointing.
Mr Levy will lead a team of more than 100 rescuers to duck shooting spots in March and said they would be supporting the prosecution of duck hunters for cruelty.
He said the majority of birds shot were still alive when they hit the water and shooters who made no attempt to retrieve wounded birds may have committed a cruelty offence.
"Duck shooting has always been about cruelty... you could say that duck shooting is legalised cruelty," he said.
He said the group had raised $10,000 to help authorities monitor and prosecute shooters.
"We have been talking to lawyers and believe they (shooters) can be prosecuted," he said.
Mr Levy said the current hot weather would reduce duck numbers by the time the season begins.
"We are not going to have very many birds in Victoria by the 16th of March, wetlands in the north west are starting to dry out," he said.
"So I think it is going to be another really poor season for duck shooters," he said.
He said duck shooting was in decline in Victoria.
"There are very few duck shooters these days compared to what there used to be 25 years ago," he said.
The Victorian chief executive of the Sporting Shooters' Association, Wayne Holdsworth, welcomed the government's announcement and said duck shooting was one of the most popular forms of hunting in Victoria.
"We are very supportive of that decision. It does provide our members with the opportunity to continue hunting as a sport," he said.
He said high duck numbers warranted the decision and "it will be well received by our members without doubt".
Mr Walsh said game hunting was a "popular recreational activity in Victoria with about 43,000 people licensed to hunt game".
"The Victorian Coalition Government encourages hunters to make the most of the opportunities to hunt, fish and enjoy these recreational activities, which form part of our heritage," he said.
There will be a bag limit of 10 ducks which includes no more than two Australasian (Blue-winged) Shovelers this season.
Duck hunters must also pass a waterfowl identification test.