UPDATE: The use of motor boats for duck hunting has been prohibited at Lake Linlithgow near Hamilton after surveys conducted by the Game Management Authority (GMA) identified significant numbers of Blue-billed ducks.
Between 500 and 600 Blue-billed ducks were recorded in counts of the area in recent days, mostly near the centre of the large lake.
“Given the wetland is approximately 4km long and about 3.5km wide, the major threat to the birds is from hunters who can venture out into the centre of the lake by motor boat,” GMA Chief Executive Officer Greg Hyams said.
“While the natural tendency of the birds is to avoid disturbance by swimming away or diving, hunters in motor boats can reach the birds and could cause them to fly, which could then expose them to hunting.”
The prohibition will be reconsidered if the birds leave the area.
Meanwhile, three wetlands will be closed and another will be partially closed for the duck season opening weekend on March 18 and 19.
- Lake Natimuk and Natimuk Creek Lake Reserve (northwest of the township of Natimuk) will be closed to hunting due to a large number of Freckled duck.
- Lake Muirhead State Game Reserve (35km southwest of Ararat) will be closed to hunting due to a significant number of Brolga, which are flocking prior to the breeding season.
- Big Reedy Lagoon State Game Reserve (8km northwest of Yarrawonga) will be closed to hunting due to a significant number of Great Egret.
- Tower Hill State Game Reserve (13km northwest of the township of Warrnambool) will be partially closed to hunting due to a significant number of Blue-billed duck. The western half of the lake will be closed to hunting but the eastern half will remain open to hunting.
As in previous years, Kow Swamp near Gunbower and Reedy Lakes at Kerang will be closed for the entire season to reinforce their status as wildlife sanctuaries.
Game Management Authority Chief Executive Officer Greg Hyams said closing wetlands during duck season was a safeguard that ensured risks to threatened species were managed.
“Surveying bird numbers and closing wetlands where appropriate helps ensure that rare and threatened species are protected,” he said. “It’s part of our shared responsibility to ensure that hunting in Victoria is conducted respectfully and responsibly.
“Government officials will continue to monitor the four wetlands closed throughout the season. These wetlands may be opened to hunting if circumstances change and the number of threatened birds reduces or they move to other locations.”
The season will run until Monday, June 12. The bag limit is 10 birds per person per day and the hunting of the Blue-winged Shoveler is prohibited in 2017.