2020 Victorian Duck Season

Field & Game Australia

We are outraged by the Victorian Government announcement of a heavily modified 2020 Duck Season which in the circumstances is completely unjustifiable. We can draw only one conclusion; that this is a political compromise not a decision based solely on the available evidence.

The position taken by FGA during consultation was completely justified and supported by all the available facts, data and science.

Through the submission process Field & Game Australia advocated for a sustainable Duck Season with six birds per day which would also encourage hunters to travel and spend money in regional communities. The Victorian Government ignored an opportunity to provide incentive for more than 25000 hunters to travel long distances to support regional communities impacted by recent bushfires. The short, heavily restricted season will have a negative economic impact on communities that can least afford it. This is a slap in the face for regional and rural Victorians and we ask all hunters to support these communities.

Despite the ridiculous restrictions and the significant time already lost for preparations, we encourage responsible and ethical hunters to make the most of this limited opportunity.

Our 18 000 members entirely support the principle of sustainable hunting because they want their children and grandchildren to have the same opportunity for generations to come. We encourage members to make an extra effort to support communities reeling from summer bushfires.

We have been consistent in our approach to season considerations, the science and data should prevail over emotion and prejudice.

There is still an over-reliance on the South Eastern Australia Waterfowl Survey as a measure of game populations, a purpose it was never designed for. The 2019 survey flew the same transects across parched and drought-stricken areas of NSW and Queensland and to the surprise of nobody, found little water and limited numbers of native waterfowl. This continental view is not a national waterfowl count, it is a longitudinal observation of habitat quality and waterfowl activity over a limited number of transects. Year on year conditions can vary greatly and water birds will not be present if there isn’t water and food.

In light of our submission this year, Field & Game Australia calls for better research to help manage and conserve waterfowl habitat and waterfowl species.

While northern parts of Victoria are extremely dry, the situation is less dire across the rest of the state. Field & Game Australia’s view was that a more balanced approach to the 2020 Duck Season was possible; achieving sustainability while still affording hunters the opportunity to harvest reasonable numbers of game birds for the family table and at the same time spend many millions of dollars in regional communities.

“The season setting process remains flawed, and the Victorian Government needs to deliver on its commitment to implement an Adaptive Harvest model which will take the politics out of season setting and instead rely on scientific facts and data,” FGA CEO Dean O’Hara said.

“Given the delays, the uncertainty and the now the compromised outcome for the 2020 Duck Season, the sooner politics is taken out of game management decisions the better.’

FGA Chairman Peter Hawker urged members to take up the opportunity to hunt in 2020, enjoying the outdoors, time with family and friends and the wonderful game dishes they will share together.

“The camaraderie of the camp and outings on our favourite wetlands are more important this year than ever, with many of our members being CFA volunteers, farmers, tradies and small business people profoundly affected by the terrible fires around regional Victoria.

“With the community angst about the fires and the prominence of the climate change debate, it would have been easy and politically convenient for the government to abandon the season altogether,” Mr Hawker said. “Let’s make the most of it.”

Dean O’Hara, CEO, Field & Game Australia

/Public Release.