Hunters compliant during season

Geelong Field and Game conservation officer Trent Leen in the bird hide at Lake Connewarre. (Ivan Kemp) 387411_04

By Jena Carr

Hunters were well-behaved and compliant during the latest duck hunting season, according to the Game Management Authority (GMA).

GMA issued 22 banning notices to activists for breaching public safety laws by hindering and harassing hunters and recorded 26 hunting-related offences during the season from April 10 to June 5.

Lake Connewarre and Lake Murdeduke State Game Reserve were closed to shooters three days before the season began on April 10, with Lake Modewarre also closed on April 13.

Geelong Field and Game conservation officer Trent Leen said hunters “did everything they were meant to do” despite the shortened season and wetland closures.

“We had plenty of roadblocks put in front of us and our activist cohorts certainly antagonised us and may not have behaved very well themselves,” he said.

“Hunters have always been quite compliant, and our level of compliance is exemplary, but the same might not be said for the activists.

“They’ve got a bit desperate in their attempts this year and have overstepped the mark on more than one occasion, which is noted by the number of banning notices handed out.

“A lot of people weren’t very happy with the closures and, myself personally, the lateness of the closures and the amount of closures as they didn’t meet the required thresholds in many cases.”

Geelong Duck Rescue co-ordinator Natalie Kopas said she felt duck-hunting protesters had been targeted during the latest season.

“It’s a real worry that they’re (state government) going to be making decisions on future seasons based on only a fraction of the information,” she said.

“I was still out there (on the wetlands) in the morning and at night as much as I could be just monitoring for illegal shooting, which was still happening.

“I have had many conversations with authorities over the years about how I can be on the wetland and remain lawful. Despite keeping to all of those things, I was given a banning notice.

“Other rescuers were given banning notices as well and there were more banning notices given out (to rescuers) in this one year than there had been in all the years put together pretty much.”