Illegal behaviour will not be tolerated, the Game Management Authority has warned as the opening of the duck hunting season approaches.
“Last year we saw illegal and irresponsible behaviour by some hunters,” GMA chief executive Greg Hyams said.
Examples included early shooting, shooting protected species and failing to retrieve shot birds.
“Shooting a non-game species is unacceptable and can result in significant consequences,” Mr Hyams said.
“Hunters must positively identify their target before shooting. If you are not sure, don’t shoot.”
The warning came after a hunter was last week fined $300 and placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond for possession of a threatened species of duck.
The GMA said the man pleaded guilty in the Kerang Magistrates’ Court after being found in possession of a Freckled Duck during the opening weekend of last year’s duck season.
The man has also had his hunting licence suspended.
Mr Hyams said hunters who failed to correctly identify protected wildlife and shot a non-game species could have their Game and Firearms licences cancelled, hunting equipment seized, or could face fines of up to $38,000 and/or two years imprisonment.
The minimum pass mark for the Waterfowl Identification Test has been raised to 85 per cent, from 75 per cent, and all protected species questions must be answered correctly to pass.
Mr Hyams encouraged all hunters to plan ahead and refresh their skills before this year’s duck season starts on March 17.
He said the gma.vic.gov.au website contained all the educational information hunters needed to refresh their identifcation skills, ‘especially if it has been a while since they went duck hunting’.
The 2018 season starts at 9am on March 17 and runs for 12 weeks, ending on June 11.
Mr Hyams said the bag limit would 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.
Goulburn-Murray Water has also reminded hunters to familiarise themselves with designated hunting areas at its lakes, dams and reservoirs.
Maps are available from the water corporation’s website: g-mwater.com.au/recreation-tourism/duck-hunting
GMA has encouraged people to report illegal hunting activity by calling 136 186, completing an online form on the GMA website www.gma.vic.gov.au, or by calling Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Victoria Police.