Licensing semi-automatic weapons for recreational hunters could be considered to help kill more deer.
A report in the Victorian Parliament’s inquiry into the control of invasive animals was handed down this week, with recommendations on how to deal with pest control in areas such as the Alpine National Park.
It recommended “the Victorian government consult with Victoria Police in relation to recreational hunters having access to category C and D firearms”, which included semi‑automatic rifles and shotguns and pump‑action shotguns.
“The committee notes that firearm regulation is a complex matter in which it is necessary to balance the benefits to firearm owners with broader concerns about public safety,” the report stated.
“The committee considers that any changes to firearm restrictions would require more consideration than has been possible in this inquiry.”
A public hearing of the inquiry was held in Bright in December where Senior Sergeant Doug Incoll revealed there were 78 people of interest in relation to deer hunting in the Wangaratta area and police set up an illegal shooters intelligence cell in 2016 to collate information from the public.
Bright police and the Game Management Authority conducted a joint operational on the weekend.
They caught five rogue deer hunters at a road block at the intersection of Rose River and Buffalo River Road allegedly illegally in possession of a firearm and spotlight after sunset – two will be summonsed to face court.
Two people in the Buckland Valley were also stopped, one will be fined for illegally being in possession of a dog in a national park and another will be investigated for carrying a loaded firearm on a public road.
The invasive animals inquiry report also noted the concerns of farmers such as Mitta Valley’s Ben Teek, who told December’s hearing that recreational hunters had caused destruction on his land.
“Personally I have had issues with people camping at the back of our property and leaving beer cans,” he said.
“We do not drive in the paddocks in winter with four‑wheel drives because it is too wet, but they will get stuck and then come through, creating a mess.
“There are also rogue hound hunters – we have wild dog issues, so we do not have dogs to work cattle, and the hounds that they use can sometimes run through the paddocks and cause mayhem with the cattle.”
The report also recommended:
-Police and the GMA better educate the community on reporting illegal hunting;
-The Alpine National Park deer management trial findings be used to inform future invasive species management; and
-The government provide financial support to landowners for deer‑proof fencing and to the GMA to target illegal hunting.
GMA chief executive Greg Hyams said the operation targeting rogue deer hunters would continue in the coming months.
“Illegal hunting and irresponsible behavior can put people and wildlife at risk and damages the reputation of hunting,” he said
“The GMA, together with its partner agencies, will continue to conduct similar unannounced operations anywhere in the state at any time so hunters must be compliant or risk large fines, the loss of their game and firearms licences and forfeiture of their equipment.”
Illegal hunting activity can be reported to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning customer service centre on 136 186.