Hunters from Ballarat plead guilty at St Arnaud Magistrate Court to possessing Freckled Duck threatened waterbird

 Duck Season 2017 will start in March and last for 12 weeks. Picture: Craig Sillitoe
Duck Season 2017 will start in March and last for 12 weeks. Picture: Craig Sillitoe

St Arnaud Magistrate Court has imposed fines on two men who admitted to possessing a threatened waterbird during last year’s duck season. 

The hunters from Ballarat pleaded guilty at the St Arnaud Magistrate Court for being in possession of a Freckled Duck.

They both received $750 fines and will now be required to resit the Waterfowl Identification Test again if they choose to renew their game licences.

The hunters’ ducks were inspected at Wooroonook camping ground, about 40 kilometres north of St Arnaud, by Authorised Officers on the opening weekend of the 2017 duck hunting season in late March.

During the inspection, the officers discovered the men were in possession of a partially plucked Freckled Duck, a threatened species which is illegal to hunt in Victoria.

Game Management Authority chief executive Greg Hyams said both men stated that they had mistakenly identified the duck as a black duck, retrieved it from the water and included it as part of their bag.

“Failure to correctly identify protected wildlife or shooting or retrieving a non-game species is unacceptable and can result in significant fines, forfeiture of equipment and loss of Game and Firearms Licences,” Mr Hyams said.

The Game Management Authority will raise the minimum pass mark for the Waterfowl Identification Test from 75 per cent to 85 per cent next month.

The higher standards will be part of an effort to ensure a higher standard of bird identification skills and all protected species must be correctly identified to pass.

All hunters applying for a duck hunting Game Licence will need to meet these requirements in order to obtain their licence.

Mr Hyams said all hunters could take full advantage of the education and training materials that the Game Management Authority provided to refresh their bird identification skills before the 2018 duck season.

“The Duck WISE educational video is available on DVD and there is a practice test on the GMA website so hunters can practice before sitting the test and revise regularly to maintain their identification skills,” Mr Hyams said.

“Hunters who want to really test their identification skills are also encouraged to resit the Waterfowl Identification Test from time to time, especially if it has been a while since they went duck hunting.”

“The GMA's website also has A Guide to Australian Waterfowl which includes diagrams on Victoria's game ducks with important information on their distribution and habitat, and colour diagrams of key identifying features, including images of game ducks in flight.”

A male Blue-winged Shoveler. Picture: GMA

A male Blue-winged Shoveler. Picture: GMA

The 2018 duck season will open at 9am on March 17 and last 12 weeks, closing on June 11. 

The bag limit will remain at the standard 10 birds per person per day however hunting of the Blue-winged Shoveler will be prohibited due to persistent low numbers of the species.

The Game Management Authority and partner agencies, including Victoria Police, state government environment autorities, and Parks Victoria, will be out in force in 2018 to ensure compliance with hunting and public safety laws.

Illegal hunting can be reported to the Game Management Authority through its website or on 136 186 or by contacting Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or Victoria Police.

This story Guilty pleas over hunting threatened waterbird near Wooroonook first appeared on The Ararat Advertiser.