Hunters, McCurdy call for duck season to go ahead in Victoria

SITTING DUCKS: Hunters, like this one pictured on the Murray River in 2011, are eagerly awaiting a decision from the state government on whether duck season will go ahead in Victoria this year. Picture: CRAIG SILLITOE
SITTING DUCKS: Hunters, like this one pictured on the Murray River in 2011, are eagerly awaiting a decision from the state government on whether duck season will go ahead in Victoria this year. Picture: CRAIG SILLITOE

A PROMINENT Border hunter has joined Ovens Valley MLA Tim McCurdy in imploring the Victorian Government to allow duck-hunting season to go ahead.

Duck season in Victoria usually opens in early March but there are doubts it will go ahead this year amid fears bird populations will struggle to recover.

Federal MP Kelvin Thomson wants the “cruel” practice banned, citing a study which said the severe El Nino drought was having a significant impact on bird numbers.

But Justin Elkington, who has been hunting for 22 years, said bird numbers were high and backed Mr McCurdy’s call that Premier Daniel Andrews “should stop stalling” and make a decision.

“Most birds have already bred three times in the past 12 months,” the manager of Elk’s Hunting and Fishing in Albury said.

“I’d say bird numbers are as good as they’ve ever been, they’ve just gone up north into NSW to where there’s more water.

“They’ve never been shot out yet and I don’t think it’s about to start now.”

Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford, touring the fire-ravaged Indigo Valley, said on Thursday a decision on duck-hunting was expected by the end of January.

Mr McCurdy said duck-hunting was important to Ovens Valley’s economy.

“There is no reason why there should not be a full duck season this year,” he said.

“Duck-hunting is a legitimate, recreational activity in Victoria.

“Hunters, families and businesses deserve to know whether a full duck season will go ahead now, so they have time to make arrangements before the opening weekend.

“Our local businesses including hunting and camping suppliers are impacted while we wait.

“A sustainable, well-regulated duck season is great for Ovens Valley.”

Mr Thomson recently penned a letter to the state government calling for an end to the "animal cruelty".

"Give the ducks and waterbirds a chance to get through what is a particularly tough year in our wetlands without the pressure of being shot at," he wrote in the letter to Victoria's Environment Minister Lisa Neville.

Mr Thomson said a survey from the University of NSW’s Centre for Ecosystem Science showed breeding waterbirds in eastern Australia were at the lowest number recorded.

He said duck hunting often resulted in the inadvertent death of birds that were protected or endangered.

A spokesman for Ms Neville said each year the government received independent advice regarding modifications to the duck season, which took in account drought and environmental factors.