(Image courtesy Field and Game Australia)

Low-key start for NSW duck hunters


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Duck season is still not back for NSW hunters, but game bird hunting in the state has been made “more sensible” under the first changes implemented under new laws.

A new committee has been established to set annual quotas and conduct audits relating to bird hunting, while callers, decoys and retriever dogs are now not only legal but encouraged as best practice.

“The utilisation of any game birds harvested will also be actively promoted,” NSW Game Council chairman John Mumford said.

He described the new system as “a planned, evidence-based, best practice management program”.

“It’s just a more sensible way of doing things,” he said.

The Game Council is taking on more responsibility for game bird management in NSW, which was previously handled by the National Parks and Wildlife Service under the state’s duck mitigation program.

Traditional duck hunting was effectively banned under the Carr Government, but the passage of the Game and Feral Animal Control Further Amendment Act 2012 will re-introduce duck hunting under a system that puts limits on where, when and how many ducks can be hunted, but not in the usual form of open seasons.

Instead, in areas where the new Native Game Bird Management Committee considers populations need to be managed, licensed hunters will be allowed to shoot them.

“The application process has been streamlined through Game Council, which frees up resources to better help our farmers,” Mr Mumford said.

At least one ongoing hurdle remains for NSW hunters: opportunities to sit the compulsory waterfowl identification test (WIT) are currently limited. They are conducted by the Victorian government, the Victorian-based Field & Game Australia, and the NSW NPWS out of its Griffith office.

While clubs can organise a tester to come to them, it is rare that NSW hunters have convenient access to WITs.

However, this is expected to change during 2014, when the Game Council finishes developing a new system for WITs as it takes on full responsibility for game bird management.

All hunters must have an R-licence endorsed for game bird hunting, issued by the Game Council.

Birds that may be hunted are:

  • Australian Shelduck or Mountain Duck (Tadorna tadornoides)
  • Australian Wood Duck or Maned Duck (Chenonetta jubata)
  • Black Duck or Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa)
  • Blue-winged Shoveler or Australasian Shoveler (Anas rhynchotis)
  • Chestnut Teal (Anas castanea)
  • Grass Whistling Duck or Plumed Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna eytoni)
  • Grey Teal (Anas gibberifrons)
  • Hardhead Duck or White-eyed Duck (Aythya australis)
  • Pink-eared Duck (Malacorhynchus membranaceus)
  • Water Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna arcuata).

For more information, see the Game Council website.


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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.

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