THREE men have been caught hunting illegally near Myrtleford as authorities continue to target firearms offences.
The Melbourne trio had been travelling with a boy in a Nissan Patrol when police and Game Management Authority staff stopped the vehicle on Rose River Road at Cheshunt about 3am on Saturday.
The authorities noticed ammunition on the floor of the four-wheel-drive and a search uncovered two firearms, butchering tools and spotlights.
An illegal flick-knife was also found with the butchering knives.
Game Management Authority compliance manager Geoff Morsby said the men did not have a valid reason to have the weapons, which were seized.
“The three men were interviewed and could not provide a legitimate reason or an authority to be in possession of the hunting equipment in recognised deer habitat at night,” he said.
Authority chief executive Greg Hyams said most deer hunters did the right thing, but offenders faced heavy penalties.
“Illegal spotlighting, particularly from public roads, is dangerous and will not be tolerated,” he said.
The men were checked as part of Operation Elmer, which is run by police and wildlife officers.
Sen-Sgt Doug Incoll of Bright police said the operation — which saw 18 offenders caught in one weekend last month — would continue until the end of the year.
“We will continue to prosecute offenders until the message gets across to the small minority of hunters who do the wrong thing that they will be caught,” he said.
“These latest offences — spotlighting at night — impact on private land owners near the state forest and national park.
“It causes them concern for their safety and the safety of their livestock.”
The men face fines of $2952 over the illegal hunting.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.