THE Game Management Authority (GMA) has reminded all duck hunters to hunt responsibly this season, or risk losing their licences.
The warning comes after a hunter pled guilty at the Kerang Magistrates Court to being in possession of a Freckled Duck, a threatened species which is illegal to hunt in Victoria.
The charges related to the opening weekend of last year’s duck season.
The man received a $300 fine, was ordered to pay court service fees and was given a twelve-month good behaviour bond. In addition, the GMA suspended his hunting licence.
Game Management Authority (GMA) chief executive officer Greg Hyams said illegal behaviour would not be tolerated.
“Last year we saw illegal and irresponsible behaviour by some hunters. This included early shooting, shooting protected species and failing to retrieve shot birds,” Mr Hyams said.
“Shooting a non-game species is unacceptable and can result in significant consequences.
“Hunters must positively identify their target before shooting. If you are not sure, don’t shoot.
“Hunters who fail to correctly identify protected wildlife and shoot a non-game species can have their Game and Firearms licences cancelled, hunting equipment seized or could face fines of up to $38,000 and/or two years imprisonment.”
The GMA has now raised the minimum pass mark for the Waterfowl Identification Test (WIT) from 75 per cent to 85 per cent and all protected species questions must be correctly answered to pass.
Mr Hyams is encouraging all hunters to plan ahead and refresh their skills before the 2018 duck season starts.
“Hunters are encouraged to visit gma.vic.gov.au where they will find all the educational information they need to refresh their identification skills, especially if it has been a while since they went duck hunting,” Mr Hyams said.
The 2018 duck season will start at 9am on Saturday March 17 and last 12 weeks, closing on Monday June 11.
The GMA and partner agencies, including Victoria Police, DELWP, DEDJTR, Victorian Fisheries Authority and Parks Victoria, will be out in force in 2018 to ensure compliance with hunting and public safety laws.
Hunters who see someone doing something illegal are encouraged to report them by phoning 136 186, completing an online form on the GMA website or by phoning Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Victoria Police.