Vic duck hunting season to go ahead

The Victorian government has allowed this year's duck hunting season to go ahead but with reduced bag numbers to ensure populations remain sustainable.

Ducks

If the Greens have their way, duck season will be cancelled in Victoria - this year at least. (AAP)

Calls to cancel duck hunting season have left the Victorian government unmoved but hunters will have to be satisfied with fewer birds.

The duck population in Victoria's wetlands has dropped more than 30 per cent since 2014, according to a report released by the Game Management Authority on Friday.

The game duck abundance index of 66,226 for 2015 is the second lowest on record since 1983.

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The last time duck numbers dipped below 69,000 - in 2007 and 2008 - the duck hunting season was cancelled and the Victorian Greens wanted the state government to do the same for this year's season.

"The science says duck hunting shouldn't go ahead," party leader Greg Barber said.

However Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford announced modified bag and species limits for the 2016 season which will go ahead from March 19.

The bag limit has been reduced from 10 birds per day to eight birds for the opening day and four birds per day for the remainder of the 12-week season, on advice from the Game Management Authority.

Because of reduced habitat and low numbers, the hunting of the Blue-winged Shoveler will be prohibited.

"Duck season is an important economic contributor to the rural economy and I encourage our 26,000 licensed hunters get out into our rural and regional areas as usual," Ms Pulford said in a statement.

"Hunters are reminded to act safely and responsibly at all times while enjoying their hunting."

Duck numbers are linked to rainfall and the availability of wetland habitats.

In 2015, wetland areas fell to below 100,000 hectares - down one third from the previous year.

A count conducted in February 2015 also found little evidence of breeding.

Game management figures show fewer hunters took part in the 2015 season and were active for only two-thirds of the usual days.

They also only shot half of the average number of ducks harvested by hunters each season.


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Published 22 January 2016 at 4:00pm
Source: AAP