Both hunters and protesters were generally well-behaved over the opening weekend of the duck hunting season, but there were some disappointing exceptions, the Game Management Authority says.
A spokesperson for the GMA said one hunter’s firearm was seized after they were found taking protected wildlife, while three hunters had their firearms seized for hunting in a closed area.
Five hunters would also receive infringement notices, the spokesperson said, including two who failed to comply with new laws that required hunters to make all reasonable efforts to retrieve shot birds.
“We said in the lead-up to duck hunting season that hunters who did the wrong thing risked having their firearms licences and their firearms confiscated, and we are disappointed some people didn’t heed this warning,” the spokesperson said.
In total, the GMA says there were 2156 hunters at patrolled wetlands over the opening weekend.
“It is important to understand that these are only preliminary results as we are now carefully considering evidence of other alleged offences, but we are confident the majority of hunters did the right thing,” the spokesperson said.
The GMA spokesperson said as well as hunters, some protesters were observed flouting laws and two were under investigation for hindering or harassing hunters.
The group Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting says there were several illegal activities on the first day of the season alone, including shooting from moving boats, the lighting of fires on a total fire ban day, illegal camping, and the shooting of non-game species.
"How can other recreational users, let alone money-generating tourists possibly get enjoyment out of these areas?” spokeswoman Kerrie Allen said.
“How is it a handful of duck shooters are allowed to take over our waterways for three months, particularly when dangerous disrespect for laws, animals and community is continually shown?"
The group is concerned there are more – and worse – instances of illegal activity occurring at unpatrolled wetlands.
The duck hunting season closes on June 11.
“We again call on all duck hunters and protestors alike to comply with the law as we will be out there enforcing the rules,” the GMA spokesperson said.
People are asked to report illegal hunting through the GMA’s website or by calling 136 186.
Witnesses can also report illegal activity to police or Crime Stoppers, on 1800 333 000.