Spotlighting

A spotlight is defined as any source of artificial light, infrared, night vision or thermal imaging device.

Spotlighting involves a person using a spotlight to hunt animals.

Is spotlighting legal for recreational game hunting?

The use of spotlights for recreationally hunting any species of game deer, duck, Stubble Quail or other game birds is prohibited. It is illegal to hunt any game species at night.

Is spotlighting legal for hunting pest animals?

Pest animals are permitted to be hunted at night with spotlights on private property and some public land that is not ‘recognised deer habitat’. See below for more details. Pest animals are non-indigenous species including rabbits, hares, foxes, pigs, goats, feral cats and wild dogs.

Can you spotlight game animals that are causing damage to crops or other assets?

Spotlights can be used to control game species where they are causing damage to assets, such as crops, pasture, revegetation plantings, gardens, or damage to infrastructure, such as fences and farm dams.

Controlling game species in these circumstances is not recreational hunting but is part of managing the impacts of wildlife. Permission to control game using spotlights is provided for under the Wildlife Act 1975, including Authorities to Control Wildlife, a Governor in Council Order or other legal instruments. These permissions will contain conditions which must be complied with.

Legal spotlighting

Some spotlighting at night is legal. This includes:

  • landowners/occupiers (e.g. farmers) or their agents (e.g. permitted hunters) controlling problem deer causing damage on their property, when acting in accordance with an unprotection order issued under the Wildlife Act 1975 and under specific methods. Visit Unprotection of deer on private property FAQfor more details
  • any person acting under an Authority to Control Wildlife or other authorisation issued under the Wildlife Act 1975 that permits wildlife to be controlled with the aid of a spotlight
  • spotlighting pest animals on private property with the landowner’s permission
  • in recognised deer habitat, spotlighting for pest animals can only occur on private property or within 250 metres outside the boundary of private property on Crown land where hunting is permitted.  This is because it is an offence to possess a spotlight and firearm in recognised deer habitat from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • outside of recognised deer habitat, pest animal hunting can occur under spotlight on Crown land that permits pest hunting, such as State Forests. If you are in doubt about the status of a particular area, contact your local DELWP office.

Possession of spotlights and firearms in recognised deer habitat

Under the Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012, a person must not:

  • possess a spotlight and a firearm in recognised deer habitat from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise
  • possess a spotlight and be in the company of a person possessing a firearm in recognised deer habitat from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.

Hunters travelling in a vehicle or on foot in recognised deer habitat, between 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise, must ensure that firearms and ammunition are securely stored and separate from one another and that a spotlight is not in use.

Penalties for the illegal spotlighting of game

Illegal spotlighting is dangerous and unethical. Illegal spotlighting can result in firearm-related incidents, including injuries to persons or wildlife or damage to property.

People caught hunting at night, spotlighting game or possessing a spotlight and firearm in recognised deer habitat may face fines in excess of $3,600, have their equipment seized, including firearms, spotlights and vehicles, and Game and Firearm Licences cancelled.

Report illegal spotlighting

This video explains the dangers of illegal spotlighting.

This video explains the penalties for illegal spotlighting.

Page last updated: 08 Sep 2022