Victoria’s 43,000 licensed game hunters will be regulated by a new Game Management Authority from July in a move expected to increase both opportunities and bureaucracy for hunters.
Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh confirmed this week the GMA, a statutory body similar to the NSW Game Council, would be operational from 1 July.
“The new Game Management Authority will help to provide better services for hunters, facilitate the growth in hunting businesses in regional areas and deliver better public land, habitat management, and broader conservation outcomes,” Mr Walsh said.
The $8.2 million to be spent on the GMA would almost double the state’s funding of game management to $17.6 million over the next four years.
The authority would not be part of the DPI or any other government department, and will report directly to the minister. It will be run by a “skills-based board”.
The announcement has generally been welcomed by hunters, including Field & Game Australia.
“Due to the increasing popularity of hunting, a stand-alone authority is now necessary to properly focus on scientific research, management of game habitats and hunter education and opportunity,” FGA chief executive Rod Drew said.
“This approach to game management is consistent with established best-practise models implemented in New Zealand and New South Wales that have demonstrated positive public benefit outcomes.”
The Victorian government says the establishment of the GMA fulfils a 2010 election promise. It also parallels the policy of the pro-hunting Country Alliance, and follows lobbying by hunting organisations such as FGA and the Australian Deer Association.
Full details of exactly what the GMA’s management system would entail have not been released, but it is expected to include compulsory training for all new game licence holders.
“The GMA will be accountable for the regulation and enforcement of game hunting activities, and will improve access to hunting areas and facilities that support game hunting,” Mr Walsh said. “The authority will also make recommendations on the control of pest animals.
“It will also promote responsible and orderly hunting of game species through improved education and training of hunters, leading to better quality hunting opportunities and animal welfare outcomes.”
It is not clear if it would include a booking system similar to that in NSW, where hunters must use an online system to book hunts in specific areas on nominated days before hunting, and carry paperwork while hunting.
While the NSW booking system is not unpopular, many Victorian hunters are adamant they do not want one in their state, where access to huge amounts of public land has been basically unregulated for years.
In confirming plans to establish the GMA, Mr Walsh again acknowledged his government’s recognition of the value of hunting to the state’s economy.
“Game hunting currently generates around $100 million of economic activity to Victoria annually and the new authority will help to create new regional development opportunities from interstate and overseas hunters,” he said.