Animal protection groups are appalled the Victorian government has given this year’s duck hunting season a green light despite a significant drop in the state’s duck population.
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford on Friday night announced modified bag and species limits to the season.
The Victorian Greens had called on the state government to cancel the season altogether after a report by the Game Management Authority showed the duck population in Victoria’s wetlands had dropped more than 30 per cent since 2014.
On advice from game authorities, the bag limit has been reduced from 10 birds per day to eight birds for the opening day, March 19, then four birds per day for the remainder of the 12-week season.
Animal groups are dismayed the government has not cancelled the season, as they did in 2007 and 2008 when numbers dipped to similar levels.
“I am appalled by the decision to allow a full 12-week duck hunting season,” RSPCA Victoria’s CEO Liz Walker said.
Duck numbers are linked to rainfall and the availability of wetland habitats, and in 2015 wetland areas fell to below 100,000 hectares – down one third from the previous year.
Reduced breeding has also been recorded among duck populations.
The decision not to cancel the duck hunting season shows a complete disregard for sustainability, Ms Walker says.
“It’s a dark day for duck welfare,” she said.
Animals Australia wants federal environment minister Greg Hunt to review the Victorian government’s decision since the killing of native waterbirds on protected wetlands is covered by federal law.