Duck season considerations
The Victorian government has set the arrangements for the 2019 duck hunting season including changes to the season length and the daily bag limit.
The decision to modify the season was made following an assessment of rainfall data, wetland conditions, waterfowl abundance and distribution, harvest data and whether hunting activities could impact on the conservation and sustainability of waterfowl populations. Given the highly mobile nature of many of Victoria’s game species, conditions across eastern Australia are considered.
The information used in this assessment was derived from the Bureau of Meteorology, the Eastern Australian Aerial Waterbird Survey and hunter surveys. This information and seasonal weather forecasts are used to inform the sustainably of duck season.
Data from these assessments showed that game duck abundance has declined from the long-term median, breeding was reduced and habitat availability across eastern Australia had declined. Climatic forecasts predicted a hotter and drier summer than normal meaning there is no real prospect of environmental conditions improving prior to the start of the duck season. However, surveys did show that game ducks were less concentrated and more dispersed throughout eastern Australia than in previous years which means that birds are not concentrated only in Victoria which could put them at risk of over-harvesting.
In response, the Game Management Authority recommended that while a season could be sustained, action was required to reduce the seasonal harvest pressure in order to protect the remaining breeding stock to allow the population to recover quickly when environmental conditions improve. Reducing the overall harvest of game ducks is important when duck abundance and breeding habitat has been reduced by environmental conditions.
A combination of reduced bag limits and a shorter season length was recommended in order to achieve a sustainable harvest level in the Victorian season. The GMA also recommended that the Blue-winged Shoveler be prohibited from hunting for 2019 due to persistent low numbers.
A full report on the considerations for the 2019 duck season can be found here: https://bit.ly/2RaiD2
The decision to modify the Victorian season is consistent with the South Australian and New South Wales Government’s decisions to modify their season and quota in response to low duck numbers and reduced habitat. This decision to modify the 2019 duck season arrangements is not unusual. A historical summary of the seasonal arrangements can be found here: https://bit.ly/2T4tSLO
Keystakeholders, including hunting, bird conservation and animal welfare organisations were consulted, and advice was given to government on possible arrangements to ensure the sustainability of game duck populations. The full submissions from these groups and an outline of the consultation process can be found below.
The GMA will continue to monitor conditions in the lead up to and during the season. Where warranted, wetlands can be closed to hunting to protect significant concentrations of threatened waterbirds.
The following presentation was developed by the Game Management Authority for the purpose of sharing information among government agencies and key stakeholders on issues that could affect the 2019 duck season.
Information in the attached presentation was current as of 11 December 2018.
How the GMA informs decisions about arrangements for the duck hunting season
While duck season arrangements are set in regulation, they can be altered in response to environmental conditions. Each year, game duck populations and environmental conditions are monitored, and information is made available to the public and key stakeholders. Key stakeholders are then consulted, and advice is given to government on possible arrangements to ensure the sustainability of game duck populations. An outline of the process can be found below.