Wetlands closed to duck hunters

Geelong Duck Rescue will be out patrolling local wetlands as the duck hunting season begins this week. Liam Barwick, left, Traudy Glasencnik, Natalie Kopas, Charlie and Jackie Jacka pictured at Lake Connewarre last year. (Ivan Kemp) 331793_05

Lake Connewarre and Lake Murdeduke State Game Reserve has been closed to duck hunting three days before the season begins to protect the threatened orange-bellied parrots.

The state government announced on April 7 that 32 wetlands would fully or partially close to hunting ahead of the season’s opening at 8am on April 10, with Reedy Lakes and Hospital Swamps remaining open to hunters.

Geelong Field and Game conservation officer Trent Leen said duck hunting was only a “small part of what they do” and the wetland closures were “very disappointing”.

“We look forward to it every year, and we work 12 months of the year to help these wetlands and do all the conservation work to ensure that everything’s sustainable,” he said.

“We are big supporters of the orange-bellied parrots and the breeding program down there; we’re very mindful of it…and they’ve already got an area of hundreds of acres where they can be.

“It’s just a slap in the face to not announce the closures until Sunday night, before the Wednesday opening and we’re very disappointed as it doesn’t give hunters any chance to go out and scout.”

Geelong Duck Rescue coordinator Natalie Kopas said she was glad to see the closures but felt more needed to be done.

“It is a comfort to know that there is a measure of protection for some of our more vulnerable wildlife, but it just still doesn’t feel like enough,” she said.

“It’s nice to see the department listening to concerns raised, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that there are areas that are still open that are known habitats for critically endangered birds.”

A Game Management Authority spokesperson said the wetlands were closed to prevent losses or disturbance to many threatened species and breeding waterbirds.

“Closing wetlands or regulating hunting methods at wetlands ensures that threatened species are protected, and duck hunting remains sustainable,” they said.

The duck hunting season will operate from April 10 to June 5, and hunting must stop 30 minutes after sunset. A daily bag limit of six-game ducks also applies.

Visit gma.vic.gov.au for regular updates on wetland closures and more information on game hunting in Victoria.