ABOUT 60 Bendigo residents are signing up for firearm licenses each month, with duck hunters saying there is stronger local interest in shooting than ever.
The 2013 duck hunting season opens on March 16, with Lake Buloke, Kerang and other wetlands expected to be busy with duck shooters. Owner of Hartley’s Hunting and Fishing in Bendigo Lindsay Hamley said more people were getting into hunting and signing up for gun licenses.
“There’s plenty of people coming in, in Bendigo alone there’s about 60 new people getting licenses a month,” he said.
“Not all of them will go duck hunting but I think a lot of people are interested. The conditions will be good in the upcoming season with a lot of water around.”
Mr Hartley said he was expecting anti-hunting protestors to turn out at the opening weekend but that it was largely a “storm in a tea cup”. “Before you do hunting you’ve got to do a duck identification course,” he said. “You always get cowboys who don’t do the right thing but I think overwhelmingly the shooters are doing the right thing.”
The Coalition Against Duck Shooting said rescuers would return to the wetlands in 2013, despite a protestor being caught in a scuffle at Lake Buloke last year.
The group has raised $10,000 to assist the RSPCA, the Department of Primary Industries and Victoria Police to prosecute recreational duck shooters for cruelty offences.
Campaign director Laurie Levy said undercover inspectors and officers were needed on wetlands to stop people who make no effort to retrieve wounded birds.
“We know the Police are short staffed, so it will fall to the RSPCA to prosecute duck shooters for cruelty. The coalition group is prepared to invest $10,000 so that cruelty is finally dealt with in the courts,” he said.