Hunting pest animals on State Game Reserves

Changes to the Wildlife (State Game Reserves) Regulations 2014 now allow the hunting of certain pest animals on State Game Reserves during the open season for duck hunting.

From 2 May 2018 recreational hunters can hunt foxes, hares and rabbits on State Game Reserves while hunting for game duck.

The changes deliver an initiative of the Sustainable Hunting Action Plan 2016-2020 under which the Government committed to improving hunting opportunities in Victoria and specifically, expanding pest hunting by exploring further hunting opportunities for game licence holders on State Game Reserves.

The regulations prescribe various conditions that hunters need to be aware of before hunting pest animals on State Game Reserves. These conditions are summarised below -

Who can hunt pest animals on State Game Reserves?

You are allowed to hunt pest animals on State Game Reserves if you are:

  • A holder of a game licence endorsed for duck hunting
  • A member of a traditional owner group with an authorisation order made under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 who under that order is authorised to hunt duck

When can you hunt pest animals on State Game Reserves?

You can hunt pest animals on State Game Reserves during the open season for duck hunting, from half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset.

This means that you can hunt pest animals for the remainder of the 2018 duck hunting season which ends on 11 June 2018 and for the duration of future seasons.

Where can you hunt pest animals on State Game Reserves?

You can hunt pest animals on State Game Reserves wherever duck hunting is permitted.

This means that you can not hunt pest animals in an area of a reserve where hunting has been prohibited or in a reserve that has been closed for duck hunting as part of seasonal arrangements.

What pest animals can you hunt?

Only certain pest animals may be hunted on State Game Reserves:

  • European hares (Oryctolagus cuniculus), 
  • European rabbits (Lepus europaeus) and 
  • Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes).

What hunting methods can you use for pest animals on State Game Reserves?

The prescribed hunting method is limited to the use of the same shotguns and non-toxic shot permitted for game duck hunting at State Game Reserves.

Gundogs may be used to retrieve pest animals that have been shot.

What are the main changes being made to the Wildlife (State Game Reserves) Regulations?

Previously, pest animals could not be hunted on State Game Reserves unless specifically authorised by Parks Victoria in undertaking pest animal control programs.

The new regulations expand recreational hunting opportunities in Victoria by allowing appropriately licensed game hunters to hunt pest animals in State Game Reserves in addition to game ducks.

The regulations have been changed to enable recreational hunters who are authorised to hunt ducks to use a shotgun, with non-toxic shot, to hunt foxes, rabbits and hares in State Game Reserves during daylight hours of the open season for duck hunting.

Why are hunters only allowed to hunt pest animals during the duck hunting season?

The prescribed duck hunting season occurs largely outside the breeding periods of waterfowl. Restricting pest animal hunting to the duck hunting season will ensure that there is no disturbance to breeding waterfowl during the vulnerable breeding periods. 

Why are you restricting pest animal hunting to where duck hunting is permitted?

The amendment regulations do not make any changes to where people can and cannot hunt.

Generally, all State Game Reserves are available for duck hunting during the duck hunting season, however wetlands may be closed for duck hunting on a seasonal basis for various reasons including the concentration of threatened waterbirds, the presence of any rare, vulnerable specifies that may be disturbed by duck hunting or due to public safety concerns

To ensure that environmental outcomes are not compromised hunters will be permitted to hunt pest animals in the same areas where duck hunting is permitted.  Hunters are reminded to check seasonal arrangements on the GMA website.

Why can hunters only hunt foxes, hares and rabbits?

The intention of the regulations is to permit hunters to hunt specified pest animals on State Game Reserves that they come across when legitimately hunting game ducks. Limiting hunting to these smaller pest animals that are commonly found in State Game Reserves will improve hunting opportunities while ensuring that it remains an incidental activity to duck hunting. It also ensures that hunting activity on State Game Reserves is at manageable levels and is undertaken in a responsible manner.

Why are hunters required to use shotguns with non-toxic shot to hunt pest animals?

The Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012 restrict the use of firearms for duck hunting to shotguns and the use of non-toxic shot. Applying this restriction equally to pest animal hunting ensures that this remains an incidental activity to duck hunting and ensures that lead-shot contamination will not occur on State Game Reserve habitat.