HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN
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CONTENTS Minister’s foreword 2 Hunting and Game Management Action Plan 4 Strategic Objectives and Actions 8 Strategic Objective 1 Promote responsible and humane hunting 10 Strategic Objective 2 Realise the economic and social benefits of hunting and game management in Victoria 16 Strategic Objective 3 Improve opportunities for hunting across Victoria 22 Strategic Objective 4 Improve wildlife, conservation and land management outcomes 26
PAGE 3 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN MINISTER’S FOREWORD SECURING A FUTURE FOR VICTORIA’S GAME HUNTING INDUSTRY I am proud to release the Victorian Government’s Hunting and Game Management Action Plan. The Government is committed to encouraging more people to interact with the natural environment and to take advantage of the outstanding opportunities for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities Victoria has to offer. The Victorian Government recognises the I thank the former Victorian Hunting Advisory importance of hunting and game management Committee for its role in developing the to Victoria’s cultural heritage. Game hunting Action Plan. The Committee, ably chaired has been regulated for over 150 years and by the Hon. Roger Hallam, led a series of hunters have a long and proud history in stakeholder workshops in 2013 with hunting, conserving wildlife habitats and contributing to conservation, animal welfare, public land, the State’s biosecurity efforts in controlling pest and industry representatives. I also thank animals. Today there are more than 46,000 those representatives who participated in the licenced game hunters in Victoria, and many consultation process – I am confident of a more hunters involved in pest management more comprehensive Action Plan as a result activities. of your contributions. Hunting and game management enhances The Action Plan will be delivered by a range the economic and social fabric of the of government departments and agencies State, with hunting generating an estimated including the Department of Environment and $439 million in economic activity and hunters Primary Industries, Parks Victoria, and the Game being a vibrant addition to many rural and Management Authority. These departments and regional communities. agencies will work in cooperation with hunting organisations, hunting businesses, conservation The Hunting and Game Management Action organisations, and private landowners to Plan reflects the Victorian Government’s vision ensure the success of the Plan. of better game management outcomes that provide healthy habitats, improve access to The Victorian Government is committed to sustainably managed game resources, and the policy directions outlined in the Plan, and contribute to a thriving hunting industry. I look forward to working with communities, stakeholders and government departments To deliver on this vision, the Action Plan to ensure it is fully implemented. includes a range of targeted and practical actions that: • promote responsible and humane hunting • realise the economic and social benefits of hunting and game management The Hon. Peter Walsh MLA • improve opportunities for hunting Minister for Agriculture and Food Security • improve wildlife, conservation and land management outcomes.
PAGE 4 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN INTRODUCTION HUNTING AND GAME The Victorian Government supports MANAGEMENT sustainable and responsible hunting and game Hunting and game management has a rich management in the State. Our vision is for cultural heritage. better game management outcomes that provide healthy habitats, improve access to Aboriginal communities across Australia, sustainably managed game resources, and including in Victoria, have hunted wildlife for contribute to a thriving hunting industry. at least 20 000 years. They depended on the management and sustainable use of wildlife Victoria has arguably world-class game hunting for food, clothing, shelter, and cultural and opportunities. Our open seasons for game spiritual needs. deer, duck and quail provide for excellent hunting while also ensuring the sustainable Hunting and game management has also management of species. The Victorian occurred across the world for centuries. Government encourages all hunters to take Many early settlers to Australia drew on a advantage of these opportunities and support proud European hunting culture, and this our regional towns and hunting industry. tradition supported their survival and enabled exploration and development of the continent. Hunting has a proud and rich cultural heritage in Victoria, particularly in rural and regional In Victoria, game hunting has occurred for Victoria. Hunting and game management over 150 years and has been regulated since encourages people to connect with the natural the early 1860s. Research has shown that environment and to conserve habitats. regulated hunting is sustainable and has not put at risk the conservation status of any The Hunting and Game Management Action species, game or non-game. Plan provides the Victorian Government’s strategic policy direction for the future. It Hunters contribute time and resources to the seeks to maximise the benefits of hunting and conservation of wildlife habitats across the game management and to actively manage landscape. Victoria’s network of State Game challenges across the landscape. Reserves and many of the State’s wetlands owe their existence to hunters who recognised the degradation and loss of wetland habitat, and lobbied for their conservation. Generations of migrants have continued to bring their rich hunting heritage to Australia. As a result, Victorian hunters come from a diverse range of social, economic and geographic backgrounds – from farmers and primary producers for whom hunting is an important component of farm management, to game hunters who laud the State’s natural environment. While hunting is no longer required for survival, a strong historical tie binds many Victorians to hunting as a form of sustainable wildlife use – including as a cherished food source.
PAGE 5 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN Today, the sustainable use of wildlife is THE CONTRIBUTION OF internationally recognised as an integral tool for the management and conservation of HUNTING AND GAME biodiversity.1 Sustainable and responsible MANAGEMENT hunting creates incentives to conserve habitats Hunting and game management activities and the wildlife that inhabit them. The hunting generate a diverse range of benefits. community in Victoria and around the world Many countries, including New Zealand, the continues to be actively engaged in practical United States, United Kingdom, Finland, and conservation projects that benefit not only South Africa, provide for sustainable and game species, but all wildlife that form part of regulated hunting tourism with associated healthy and productive ecosystems. economic and biodiversity benefits. Australia is a signatory to a number of In Victoria, hunting generated around international conventions that relate to $439 million of direct and indirect economic sustainable hunting, including the Convention activity in Victoria in 20133. It is a vital on Biological Diversity and Convention component of many rural and regional on Wetlands (also known as the Ramsar economies. For example, it is estimated that Convention). These international conventions $76 million is spent annually in the Gippsland are underpinned by objective scientific region and $27.9 million in the Loddon Mallee evidence and commit Australia to the North region. sustainable use of natural resources. Australia gives effect to these conventions in the design Hunting supports thousands of jobs and and implementation of policies and programs – businesses directly related to the manufacture Australia’s approach to kangaroo management and sale of hunting and outdoor products and for example, is recognised internationally as an services. This includes businesses relating to outstanding large scale sustainable wildlife use firearms and ammunition, safety equipment, program.2 fuel, accommodation (caravan parks, hotels and motels), camping and hunting equipment, In Victoria, hunting and game management and cafes and other food businesses. Hunting is controlled through legislation and also supports a number of specialist businesses, regulations that are consistent with national including private game bird farms, private and international obligations. These include hunting tour operators, and taxidermy. the Wildlife Act 1975, the Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012, and the Code of Practice for The growing number of interstate and the Welfare of Animals in Hunting made under international hunters coming to Victoria the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986. provides an opportunity to promote Victoria’s In addition to enforcing compliance with laws world-class game hunting opportunities and and regulations, the Victorian Government also deliver further economic benefits, particularly plays an active role in providing information in regional areas. to hunters on hunting opportunities and educating them on their legal obligations in order to maximise compliance. 1 Brainerd, S. (2007) European Charter on Hunting and 3 Department of Environment and Primary Industries (2014) Biodiversity, Convention on the Conservation of European Estimating the economic impact of hunting in Victoria Wildlife and Natural Habitats. in 2013. 2 Victoria and the Northern Territory are the only jurisdictions not to have a scientifically based kangaroo harvest program.
PAGE 6 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN The Victorian hunting community has also CURRENT AND EMERGING played a valuable role in the control of pest animals for generations, promoting CHALLENGES conservation of habitats and healthy wildlife There are a number of current and emerging populations. As part of the Government’s challenges for hunting and game management integrated approach, it works in cooperation in Victoria. with commercial and non-commercial hunters The popularity of game hunting in Victoria has to control pest animals across the Victorian grown significantly over the past two decades landscape. – for example the number of deer hunting For hunters and their families, hunting licences has more than doubled in the past incorporates the ethical pursuit and harvest of ten years. There are currently 46,000 licensed game and pest animals and the enjoyment of game hunters in Victoria, the largest number of Victoria’s natural environment. They appreciate licensed game hunters in Australia.4 the opportunity to spend time camping The increasing number of game hunters, with friends and family, learning about and along with increasing pest hunting activity, observing nature and the behaviour of wildlife. highlights the importance of clear, accurate Hunters take responsibility for the wildlife they and accessible information and education. This hunt and enjoy being able to provide food includes how, when and where hunting can for their family and to share it with others, occur. The challenge is to provide accurate including non-hunters. information in a timely way to enable hunters Hunting is an activity often passed down to comply with their requirements and to from generation to generation – with family ensure all Victorians are able to enjoy the members teaching not only how to hunt and State’s parks and reserves. learn bush craft skills, but also valuable life There is a diverse range of attitudes to hunting. lessons. Among other things, hunting teaches Not all people agree with hunting and people the interdependence of life, the importance of have a right to voice their opposition – stewardship of land and wildlife, cooperation however this must be done in a safe and lawful with other land users, and observation and manner. survival skills. It is a physical activity that promotes a healthy lifestyle and demands Challenges also arise from the condition physical fitness and discipline. of reserves and limitations on access to designated hunting areas, which causes considerable frustration in the hunting community. For example, access to some State Game Reserves has become limited by lease and licence agreements, unclear signage and/or obstructed roads and access points. 4 Many hunters also hold licences for more than one game species (deer: 29,200, duck: 26,300; quail: 29,200).
PAGE 7 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN All animals can from time to time cause DELIVERING THE HUNTING damage that requires management – this includes game animals. Deer, for example, AND GAME MANAGEMENT can cause damage to crops, fences and ACTION PLAN other infrastructure, as well as compete with The Hunting and Game Management Action livestock for feed on private properties. The Plan provides the Victorian Government’s management of deer can pose challenges for strategic policy direction for the future. policy makers in ensuring deer are retained as a The Action Plan will be delivered by a range valuable game hunting resource while enabling of government departments and agencies, landowners to efficiently control animals that including the Departments of Environment cause damage on their properties. and Primary Industries (DEPI), Justice, State Technological changes are also impacting how Development, Business and Innovation, hunters undertake their activity. Improvements Parks Victoria, Victoria Police and the Game in vehicle design (four wheel drives and quad Management Authority. DEPI and Parks Victoria bikes), along with GPS and satellite technology, have a critical role in the management of public enables hunters to enter previously inaccessible land and conservation of wildlife habitats. The areas. The quality of firearms, binoculars and Game Management Authority (GMA) is the lights (e.g. black lights) improve opportunities State’s regulator of game hunting activities and for hunters as well as their likely success. provides a one-stop-shop for information on Changing technology also poses challenges game hunting in Victoria. for compliance activities with scanners being Implementation of the Action Plan will also rely used to avoid detection and electronic media on the cooperation of hunting organisations, enabling rapid dissemination of information. hunting businesses, and private landholders. A Hunters, like other outdoor enthusiasts, such partnership approach across the community is as fishers and four-wheel drivers, face the critical to the success of the Plan. prospect of non-compliant hunting activity threatening the reputation of the responsible majority. The challenge is to ensure strong and transparent compliance policies and procedures, along with improved hunting information and education, to facilitate responsible and sustainable hunting practices. Education is also critical to ensure safety of hunting activity. Hunting is considered to be a relatively safe activity and one that can co-exist with a range of other land uses and activities. The consequences of the unsafe use of hunting firearms however, can be disastrous. Educating and training hunters in safe firearm handling is a challenge of paramount importance and is an area where hunting organisations play a critical role.
PAGE 8 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES AND ACTIONS PROMOTE RESPONSIBLE AND REALISE THE ECONOMIC HUMANE HUNTING AND SOCIAL BENEFITS 1.1 We will provide better access to hunting OF HUNTING AND GAME information and education. MANAGEMENT IN VICTORIA 1.2 We will engage and partner with the hunting community to promote 2.1 We will provide timely announcements responsible and humane hunting. to industry and the public of seasonal 1.3 We will introduce a best practice hunting conditions. compliance and enforcement approach 2.2 We will explore opportunities to remove for hunting and game management. restrictions on the use or processing of 1.4 We will update the Code of Practice for wild harvested game meat and products. the Welfare of Animals in Hunting, and 2.3 We will advocate for the removal of other relevant codes, and promote these barriers that prevent international hunters Codes more broadly. coming to Victoria. 1.5 We will improve guidance for hunters on 2.4 We will support the growth of hunting the safe transport and storage of firearms. tourism in Victoria. 1.6 We will explore options to strengthen 2.5 We will enhance game hunting tourism training and education of new hunters. on private land. 1.7 We will update the Waterfowl 2.6 We will support sustainable development Identification Test and related supporting of the hunting tour operator industry in materials. Victoria. 1.8 We will review the ongoing need for 2.7 We will commission a study to determine the Registration of Interest to Hunt Pest the contribution of hunting to the Animals on Crown Land. Victorian economy. 1.9 We will develop partnerships with hunting retail businesses. 1.10 We will promote responsible hunting by attending relevant events and exhibitions.
PAGE 9 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN IMPROVE OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVE WILDLIFE, HUNTING ACROSS VICTORIA CONSERVATION AND LAND 3.1 We will provide current and easily MANAGEMENT OUTCOMES accessible information about permitted locations for hunting, including 4.1 We will encourage public land appropriate signage. managers to make appropriate use of hunting organisations in designing 3.2 We will improve access to State Game and implementing pest animal control Reserves and other public land where programs. hunting is permitted. 4.2 We will improve habitat management 3.3 We will remove unnecessary restrictions of State Game Reserves. to hunt pest animals on State Game Reserves and other land where game 4.3 We will develop a state-wide deer hunting is permitted. management strategy. 3.4 We will review opportunities for 4.4 We will continue to monitor, conduct helicopters to land on available research and analyse the environmental, helipad facilities located on public social and economic impacts of game land to facilitate access to hunting hunting and game management. opportunities. 4.5 We will introduce a pilot of the Waterfowl 3.5 We will engage with Aboriginal Conservation and Harvesting Model. communities and Traditional Owner 4.6 We will improve the quality of data that is organisations to build capability and collected and monitored about hunting participation. activities. 4.7 We will support the ongoing development of the Australian National Hunting Archive.
PAGE 10 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 1 PROMOTE RESPONSIBLE AND HUMANE HUNTING Action Intent 1.1 We will provide Achieving the Victorian Government’s sustainability and safety better access outcomes for hunting relies on providing accurate and full information to hunting to those wishing to hunt in Victoria. information and As the new regulator of hunting activities in Victoria, the GMA will be education. the authoritative source for hunting and game management related information. The GMA’s website will provide clear and comprehensive information to encourage responsible and safe hunting practices and provide clarity on the rights and responsibilities of hunters. The GMA’s website will also ensure current and accurate information is always readily available. The government will: • provide a one-stop-shop for all information about hunting in Victoria on the GMA website, which draws on information provided by Parks Victoria, Victoria Police, DEPI and other relevant agencies -- information on the GMA website will include rules and regulations, the process to apply for relevant licences and permits, where and when hunting is permitted, methods of responsible and humane hunting, pest control programs, and other educational material • broaden the content of the Victorian Hunting Guide • expand distribution of the Victorian Hunting Guide and other information, through Victoria Police, to all people renewing their firearms licence where the genuine need relates to the hunting of game or pest animals • include information on the location of available shooting ranges, for their contribution to hunter shooting training, on the GMA website.
PAGE 11 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN Action Intent 1.2 We will engage Ensuring the hunting community participates in safe and responsible and partner hunting is central to the long-term sustainability of hunting and the with the hunting welfare of game animals. community Engaging and partnering with the hunting community to promote to promote responsible hunting through the development of a responsible hunting responsible campaign will reinforce a self-regulation approach and promote a ‘zero and humane tolerance’ culture to irresponsible behaviour. hunting. Many hunting community organisations, such as the Firearms Safety Foundation, provide responsible hunting information and deliver training programs to their members. There is significant existing knowledge and capacity within these organisations that can be leveraged to promote responsible hunting in a sustainable and cost- effective manner. The government will: • engage with hunting organisations to develop responsible hunting campaigns • support and promote expanded distribution of existing hunting information guides and training programs developed cooperatively between government and relevant hunting and shooting community organisations.
PAGE 12 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN Action Intent 1.3 We will Compliance and enforcement activities are essential to promote introduce a responsible hunting and game management. best practice The government is committed to addressing the recommendations compliance and in the 2012 Victorian Auditor-General’s Office report, ‘Effectiveness of enforcement Compliance Activities’, to improve the planning of compliance work, approach targeting activities and resources at the highest risks, and selecting the for hunting right mix of compliance tools to manage the risks. and game management. The GMA will: • review the current compliance and enforcement approach for hunting and game management to determine appropriate resourcing requirements during the year, and promote consistency of approaches to enforcement activities between partner agencies such as DEPI, Victoria Police and Parks Victoria • develop a compliance policy to guide the regulator in performing its responsibilities and to communicate, to hunters and the local community, the regulator’s principles and approach to enhancing compliance • enter into agreements with Parks Victoria and DEPI for reciprocal compliance and with Victoria Police to continue to lead protestor compliance (with the GMA providing assistance by training Victoria Police officers). 1.4 We will update The Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals in Hunting is made the Code of under the provision of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act Practice for 1986. The Code of Practice sets out minimum standards, obligations the Welfare and recommendations with respect to the care and use of animals. of Animals in The purpose of the code is to prevent cruelty and encourage the Hunting, and considerate treatment of animals that are hunted or used for hunting. other relevant Other codes include the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals on codes, and Private Game Reserves Licensed to Hunt Game Birds. promote these Codes more Given that the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals in Hunting broadly. was issued in 2005, it is timely to review it. The government will: • review the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals in Hunting, seeking stakeholder and broader community feedback during the review process • explore options to better promote the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals in Hunting and other animal welfare codes more broadly among hunters and the community.
PAGE 13 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN Action Intent 1.5 We will improve At present, there is uncertainty across the hunting community around guidance for the rules and regulations for the transport and storage of firearms. This hunters on the uncertainty is particularly high when hunters are transporting firearms safe transport to and from hunting activities outside their usual place of residence. and storage of To resolve current levels of uncertainty, Victoria Police will develop firearms. a practical guide to the current firearms regulations applied in a pest management and hunting environment. This guide will provide clear information and specific examples about how firearms (and associated products including ammunition) should be transported and secured within Victoria. This guidance will be provided on the GMA website and distributed with new firearm licences and with the Victorian Hunting Guide. This will provide valuable guidance for both current Victorian hunters and for interstate firearms licence holders who bring firearms into Victoria for hunting purposes. The practical guide will also assist enforcement officers to interpret and apply existing firearms regulations. 1.6 We will explore At present, in order for prospective hunters to obtain a game licence options to in Victoria, they are required to file an application and pay the required strengthen fee. No testing or study is required. The exceptions to this are for training and prospective hunters wishing to hunt waterfowl and/or Sambar deer education of with hounds. new hunters. In order to promote safety and responsible hunting practices, other jurisdictions (including across Canada) have introduced hunting education courses that prospective hunters must complete and pass before obtaining a game licence. The government will: • explore opportunities to improve the technical capacity of the current game licensing system, e.g. web-based licensing in order to improve the quality of services such as online education, payment and printing of licences • establish a forum to discuss, consult on and develop a curriculum and service delivery model for a Victoria hunting education program for new hunters.
PAGE 14 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN Action Intent 1.7 We will update All adult hunters wishing to hunt game birds in Victoria must pass the Waterfowl the Waterfowl Identification Test to demonstrate adequate waterfowl Identification identification skills. This assists in reducing the number of protected Test and related non-game species shot by duck hunters each year. supporting The government will: materials. • update the Waterfowl Identification Test and related supporting materials, such as the ‘Ducks in Sight’ video, to ensure they are relevant to current situations • explore options to expand the breadth of the test to further promote responsible hunting • ensure that the Waterfowl Identification Test number is printed on all Victorian game licences to reduce the administration costs to Victorian hunters wanting to hunt in other jurisdictions. 1.8 We will review Victorian hunters are able to apply to DEPI for a Registration of Interest the ongoing to Hunt Pest Animals on Crown Land as the genuine need for a firearm. need for the DEPI does not require any evidence before issuing of the Registration Registration of of Interest. Interest to Hunt Additionally, hunters who have used a Registration of Interest as Pest Animals on their genuine reason, instead of becoming a member of a hunting Crown Land. organisation or applying for a game license, do not receive any follow up hunting information or communication. The government will review the Registration of Interest to ensure hunters using this as their genuine reason receive the same information and hunting guidance as hunters who have used other genuine reasons. This will encourage responsible hunting and more knowledge of, and compliance with, hunting rules and regulations. In reviewing the Registration of Interest, the government will: • assess the ongoing need for the Registration of Interest as a genuine reason for a firearm • ensure appropriate consent for release of information between Victoria Police and GMA for contact details of hunters who apply for a Registration of Interest • distribute hunting information and educational material, including the Victorian Hunting Guide, to all hunters using the Registration of Interest as their genuine reason for a firearm • explore options to issue the Registration of Interest for the same validity period as a firearms licence.
PAGE 15 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN Action Intent 1.9 We will develop Each year, hunters in Victoria contribute to local economies and partnerships jobs in regional Victoria through spending on safety equipment, fuel, with hunting accommodation, camping and hunting gear, and food. retail businesses. Well-informed retail businesses can encourage greater sharing of hunting information, including current rules and regulations and permitted places for hunting, acting as a valuable source of information to promote responsible hunting. Hunting retail businesses also provide an information gathering channel for government to assist in identifying risks and collecting data, such as the number of hunters each season. The government will: • develop partnerships with hunting retail businesses, in particular firearms and ammunition retailers, to ensure that staff are able to provide accurate information to hunters • expand the distribution of hunting information and educational material through hunting retail businesses • establish an annual forum with hunting retail businesses. 1.10 We will promote Game officers currently attend key hunting organisation events and responsible relevant exhibitions to provide compliance information and education. hunting by Officers will continue to attend at least 10 relevant Victorian outdoor attending and recreational activity events and exhibitions each year to provide relevant events information and education about responsible hunting. and exhibitions. Other agencies that play an important role in the regulation or provision of hunting services, such as Parks Victoria, Victoria Police, and DEPI, will also attend major events. Relevant events include annual Hound Registration days and Duck Fever nights held at regional locations in the month prior to the start of duck season. Game officers will also continue to attend various local hunting group meetings on request. Attending these events will encourage and promote safe and humane hunting practices while broadening the community’s understanding of hunting.
PAGE 16 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 2 REALISE THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL BENEFITS OF HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT IN VICTORIA Action Intent 2.1 We will The length, open and close seasons, opening times and bag limits for provide timely hunting conditions are set out in the Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012. announcements The Victorian Government makes annual announcements about any to industry variations in these seasonal conditions as appropriate. In providing and the public timely announcements: of seasonal • the Minister for Agriculture and Food Security will publish and hunting announce detailed seasonal conditions for duck, quail and deer conditions. hunting as soon as practical • the Victorian Government will investigate options to bring forward announcements of seasonal conditions, while still maintaining the integrity of the evidence-based decision • the GMA will adopt new technology and use new communication channels, such as Twitter, to provide information on bag limits, open and closed seasons, opening times for duck, quail and deer and other seasonal conditions. 2.2 We will explore The use of wild harvested meat and other products is regulated under opportunities the Wildlife Act 1975 and the Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012 as to remove well as the Meat Industry Act 1993, National Parks Act 1975 and other restrictions legislation. on the use or The Australian Standard for the Hygienic Production of Wild Game processing of Meat for Human Consumption provides minimum standards to ensure wild harvested wild game meat for human consumption complies with food safety game meat and requirements and is wholesome (passed for human consumption). products. Currently, there are various restrictions and conditions regulating use of this meat, particularly wild harvested meat, which is prohibited from commercial use, even when killed under an approved licence. These restrictions contribute to the current situation where wild harvested meat is often left to waste and/or abandoned on public and private lands, attracting other pest animals. The restrictions also limit the ability of authorised Traditional Owners to derive economic benefits from traditional practices. The government will: • review the Wildlife Act 1975, Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012, Meat Industry Act 1993, National Parks Act 1975 and other legislation, codes and standards relevant to wild harvested game meat and products to identify areas where barriers to the commercial use or processing of wild harvested game meat and products can be eliminated.
PAGE 17 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN Action Intent 2.3 We will Monitoring the importation of firearms is a critical issue for Victoria advocate for and Australia. There are opportunities to improve the process and cut the removal red tape for responsible international hunters, and returning Australian of barriers hunters, to bring registered firearms into Victoria. that prevent The Victorian Government has previously worked with the international Commonwealth on this issue and commits to continue to do so, hunters coming recognising its importance to the industry. to Victoria. The Victorian Government will work to simplify the rules and regulatory arrangements that apply to international hunters, including through: • continuing the ‘Non-resident of Australia Game Licence’ category, which removes the need for international visitors to pass various tests before engaging in hunting, provided that they hunt under the supervision of a Game Licence holder • continuing to participate in national Ministerial Council forums and raising relevant issues, such as reducing red tape to bring registered and legal firearms into Australia, including those owned by Australian hunters returning from overseas • the Minister for Agriculture and Food Security writing to the Commonwealth Minister for Immigration and Border Protection seeking a review of current arrangements for the export of hunting trophies from Australia by international hunters.
PAGE 18 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN Action Intent 2.4 We will support New Zealand, Scotland, the United States, South Africa, and various the growth of Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Ontario and others) have all hunting tourism worked to create vibrant hunting tourism industries. These international in Victoria. examples highlight opportunities to promote hunting tourism in Victoria to deliver growth and economic benefits, particularly in regional areas. In Victoria, Regional Tourism Boards are the peak tourism organisation for their region. They are responsible for the holistic development of tourism and advocacy for their region. Functions include setting the strategic direction of the region, acting as a conduit between industry in the region and government bodies, regional marketing, industry development, identifying investment priorities and managing sustainability. An Inquiry into Heritage Tourism and Ecotourism in Victoria (the Inquiry) commenced in 2012 to examine the potential for ecotourism in Victoria. The government will work to enhance game hunting as a tourism- generating activity by: • providing detailed information about game hunting in Victoria on the Visit Victoria website, either through a single webpage or as a part of an existing webpage • facilitating meetings with Regional Tourism Boards and the GMA regarding hunting and game management opportunities and consulting and working with these Boards in the promotion of hunting opportunities at a local level • developing an international supply chain analysis for the hunting industry and formulating appropriate strategies. These actions will address the potential risk of there being too little information available to interstate and international visitors to indicate that game hunting is a legitimate and safe activity available in Victoria.
PAGE 19 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN Action Intent 2.5 We will enhance At present, there are few incentives for private land owners to provide game hunting for game hunting opportunities or to manage game and their habitats. tourism on Land owners who do make their lands available to hunters can benefit private land. greatly by establishing friendships, receiving assistance to control pest animals, receiving assistance with other tasks around the property, or receiving some form of financial payment in return for access. Action by landowners could include restoring, enhancing or creating wetland habitat for ducks, actively managing grazing and cropping to provide for Stubble Quail or providing cover and watering points for Hog Deer on private grazing lands. The government will work with landowners and other stakeholders to develop resources and factsheets for hunting tourism on private land. The resources would include Property-Based Wildlife Management Plans, which may consider: • developing extension services for land owners to educate them on how to responsibly keep and improve the habitat for the benefit of game and wildlife, including preventing animals from escaping • developing a checklist for land owners to facilitate responsible hunting on their property, including checking for valid game and firearms licenses and having appropriate hunting facilities and infrastructure • facilitating agreements between land owners and hunters for access to hunting opportunities • introducing flexibility around harvest periods to facilitate hunting tourism according to strict management plans.
PAGE 20 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN Action Intent 2.6 We will support Hunting tour operators can provide new, interstate and particularly sustainable international hunters with specialist local knowledge about available development hunting opportunities. Hunting tour operators can also promote of the hunting compliance with Victorian hunting regulations, offering guided access tour operator to available hunting areas. industry in Development of a hunting tour operator industry offers the potential Victoria. to increase hunting related tourism and deliver economic benefits for regional Victoria. The government will work with current and prospective hunting tour operators, along with hunting organisations, to promote the industry and simplify the regulatory processes by: • exploring efficient and effective options for codifying hunting tour operator industry standards and exploring options to develop industry-led accreditation of hunting tour operators • facilitating deer hunting tour operators to operate on public land and areas open to other hunters while complying with existing Parks Victoria licence conditions • providing information on the GMA website for interstate and international visitors regarding licensed hunting tour operators so that prospective hunters can readily access this information • reviewing the potential for mutual recognition of licences issued by specific land managers so that approved activities can be conducted on multiple sites with one licence and the payment of one fee.
PAGE 21 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN Action Intent 2.7 We will Current estimates of expenditure on game hunting are in excess commission of $281 million annually in Victoria, with most of this expenditure a study to occurring in rural areas. Game hunting supports businesses and determine the industries, including gun shops, accommodation, camping and boating contribution stores, rural petrol stations and general stores, as well as dog breeders of hunting to and the pet industry. the Victorian Data collection in the past on hunter expenditure in Australia (outside economy. that undertaken by game hunters) has been infrequent, incomplete and inconsistent. The Victorian Government will commission a study every five years to determine the contribution of hunting to the Victorian economy. The research will provide comprehensive data and a robust assessment of the net economic benefits of all forms of hunting. Data will be used to inform investment decisions, target growth opportunities, and improve service provision and regulatory outcomes.
PAGE 22 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 3 IMPROVE OPPORTUNITIES FOR HUNTING ACROSS VICTORIA Action Intent 3.1 We will provide Providing accurate and easily accessible information about permitted current and hunting locations and game availability is important to promote hunting easily accessible activity and enhance hunter compliance with current regulations. information Currently, comprehensive information about hunting locations and about permitted allowable game hunting activity is disjointed and not easy to access. locations This makes it difficult for hunters and the general public to stay for hunting, informed of hunting locations and game hunting opportunities that are including available. appropriate signage. Improving both physical signage on public land and online delivery of dynamic hunting information will lead to a better informed hunting community and general public. To achieve these outcomes the government will: • initiate a rolling program of assessment and appropriate replacement/renewal of signage for all State Game Reserves -- the rolling program will commence with 10 priority State Game Reserves, and all will be completed within two years -- signs will ensure Victorians readily understand where and when hunting can legitimately take place • continue to implement targeted improvements to hunting-related signage on other public land where hunting is permitted, including National Parks and water storages • identify appropriate platforms for disseminating information about available hunting locations and game hunting opportunities, and access information required for such platforms -- tools will include the Park Notes series, websites, phone applications, an updated State Game Reserve guide, dynamic online maps and other information resources -- information within the tools will include where and when hunting is permitted and the type of game species that can legally be hunted within each location.
PAGE 23 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN Action Intent 3.2 We will improve Hunters experience a variety of access issues to public land where access to State hunting is currently permitted. Game Reserves A proportion of State Game Reserves set aside for hunting and game and other public management now have limited access. Some reserves are land locked land where by other public and private land, while other reserves have access hunting is restricted by fences and locked gates. permitted. Access tracks are closed seasonally to protect tracks, to protect drivers from hazardous conditions, or to provide for management vehicle only access as a deliberate land management decision. These tracks are not available for vehicle-based hunting during the closure period. Hunters can still access these areas on foot. Parks Victoria currently has an agreement with Four Wheel Drive Victoria whereby access to a select number of management vehicle only tracks is provided where this does not threaten catchment or wilderness values, in return for a track report and drainage and maintenance works. To improve access to hunting in Victoria, the government will: • improve access to State Game Reserves as part of a program of assessment and access improvement for all State Game Reserves -- the program will commence with improving access to 15 priority State Game Reserves and other public land areas, and will be completed within five years (where lease terms allow) -- this will include ensuring access points are properly signposted and maintained, and ensuring access is recognised for public roads leading into the reserves • establish a Steering Committee to assess and prioritise State Game Reserves • establish working groups to implement local solutions and access improvements to the 15 identified State Game Reserves and other public land areas as part of the program of access improvement. The working groups will consider individual lease or licence terms affecting access, including enabling hunters to pass through public land with firearms or crossbows • improve the responsiveness of opening and closing tracks according to seasonal conditions • improve collaboration with hunting organisations regarding track closures by -- including hunting organisations on track closure consultative committees -- providing controlled access to hunting organisations during closure periods when track conditions allow.
PAGE 24 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN Action Intent 3.3 We will remove Hunting of pest animals is currently restricted on State Game Reserves unnecessary and other land where and when game hunting is permitted. restrictions Allowing licenced game hunters to shoot pest animals they incidentally to hunt pest encounter in the course of their hunting can contribute to land animals on State management, conservation and wildlife habitat outcomes, while also Game Reserves improving opportunities for hunting in Victoria. and other land where game The Victorian Government will remove unnecessary restrictions on hunting is the destruction of pest animals on public and private land where game permitted. hunting is permitted. For State Game Reserves and National Parks this will only apply during open seasons. 3.4 We will review The Victorian Government is committed to improving opportunities for opportunities hunting in Victoria. This includes more remote hunting locations in the for helicopters Alpine regions, which are particularly inaccessible during track closure to land on periods. available The government will review helicopter access arrangements in Alpine helipad facilities regions and remote areas of Victoria to enable helicopter charters to located on transport hunters into previously inaccessible locations. public land to facilitate access As part of the review, the government will ensure there is no negative to hunting impact on emergency services (and will consider the impact on other opportunities. public land users) from any proposed changed access arrangements.
PAGE 25 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN Action Intent 3.5 We will engage Since European settlement in Victoria, Aboriginal people have had with Aboriginal decreased levels of access to land and ability to undertake traditional communities practices, such as the hunting of native wildlife. and Traditional The Victorian Government has already made progress in this area, Owner including the release in 2012 of an Aboriginal Fishing Strategy, which organisations seeks to achieve outcomes relating to recognition of Aboriginal to build customary fishing rights while maintaining sustainable fisheries capability and management. In 2013, the government entered into a native title participation. settlement with the Dja Dja Wurrung People of Central Victoria that recognises Traditional Owner rights, authorises the hunting of game and wildlife for traditional purposes, and which provides mechanisms for Traditional Owner involvement in the management of public land. • The Victorian Government will engage with Traditional Owner organisations (including through capacity building and direct contracting) to build participation in land management and conservation. • The GMA will employ a Statewide Aboriginal Game Manager to engage with Aboriginal communities and Traditional Owner organisations with an interest in hunting in Victoria.
PAGE 26 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 4 IMPROVE WILDLIFE, CONSERVATION AND LAND MANAGEMENT OUTCOMES Action Intent 4.1 We will Pest animals can impact on native fauna and flora through predation, encourage competition, habitat destruction and land degradation. As part of public land ongoing public land management activities, Parks Victoria conducts managers animal control programs designed to identify priority pest animal to make species and flora and fauna most under threat. appropriate Control of pest animals through a planned and coordinated effort use of hunting based on a variety of control methods has proven to be the most organisations in effective method for protecting threatened flora and fauna. designing and implementing Hunting can play an important role as part of an integrated approach pest animal to pest management. Parks Victoria works cooperatively with hunting control organisations through formal agreements, including organisations such programs. as the Australian Deer Association (ADA), Field and Game Australia (FGA) and the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA) in the design and implementation of control programs. These documents provide a framework that enables ADA, FGA and SSAA members to assist in approved Parks Victoria control programs for pest animals. Building on this existing activity, the government will: • explore the potential to establish additional agreements between Parks Victoria, other public land managers and hunting organisations • disseminate further information to staff of public land managers about the ability to engage hunting organisations to assist in control programs for pest animals on public land • explore any potential regulatory or administrative barriers that currently prevent engagement of hunting organisations in control programs and take action to remove those barriers • ensure that the deer management strategy (see action 4.3) includes a focus on the use of hunting organisations in deer control programs as part of an integrated management strategy • explore options for the 10 Catchment Management Authorities of water storages to use hunters as part of their pest management strategies.
PAGE 27 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN Action Intent 4.2 We will State Game Reserves have been established since 1958 to preserve the improve habitat habitat of game species from agricultural development. State Game management Reserves offer some of the best hunting opportunities in Victoria and of State Game have been recognised for their broader conservation, education and Reserves. recreation values. The Victorian Government will: • develop management principles for State Game Reserves, focusing on maintaining quality habitats and watering regimes, pest control, installation and maintenance of appropriate visitor facilities and correct reserve signage and information (including information on hunting and the purpose of these reserves) -- the management principles will also suggest partnership models with community groups to improve habitat management of the reserves • complete a State Game Reserve Audit Report and make this widely available -- the report will review and assess the current status, quality and availability of land resources for hunting, and will inform the rolling program of signage renewal (action 3.1) and access improvement (action 3.2) • establish ‘demonstration site’ State Game Reserves and engage hunting organisations to assist in delivery, drawing on the developed management principles -- the model reserves will be managed for improved outcomes for game (including predator control, nest boxes, pest control, water regimes, revegetation, managed grazing). 4.3 We will develop The Victorian Government recognises that the growing population a state- of deer in Victoria can have negative impacts on biodiversity values, wide deer agriculture and private property. In July 2013, the government took management action to remove the need for private land owners to apply for a permit strategy. to control problem deer on their land. Building on this initiative, the Victorian Government will develop a state- wide deer management strategy to consolidate principles for managing deer across all land tenures in Victoria. The strategy will outline principles to guide decision-making and action planning at a local level to manage deer populations. This includes partnerships with hunting organisations in targeted culling programs according to geographic region.
PAGE 28 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN Action Intent 4.4 We will The Victorian Government is committed to using a strong scientific continue evidence base to drive the policy agenda in wildlife conservation and to monitor, environmental management. conduct An ongoing research program is required to allow a deep research and understanding of current impacts and issues relating to game analyse the hunting and habitat management activities. In developing this environmental, research program, we will consider options for collaboration with social and private and tertiary education sectors, and Traditional Owners, when economic commissioning new research. impacts of game hunting The government will: and game • develop a research strategy for hunting and game management in management. Victoria • ensure ongoing monitoring, maintenance and analysis of long term data sets, including population monitoring for game and non-game species to assess the impact of hunting and ensure sustainability • undertake research to identify hunting strategies (e.g. strategic harvest, ballots) to maximise control outcomes on public land for implementation by land managers. • conduct research on hunting and pest control management, including to define deer population ranges to inform containment programs • undertake programs of tagging, banding and monitoring of game species • conduct research into land and habitat management techniques to benefit native game species • undertake assessments of relationship between hunting seasons on local ecosystems around hunting reserve areas, including consideration of soil, air and water quality.
PAGE 29 HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN Action Intent 4.5 We will In 2010, an Expert Scientific Panel was convened by the Adaptive introduce a Harvest Management subcommittee of the Hunting Advisory pilot of the Committee to recommend a robust scientific approach to sustainable Waterfowl waterfowl harvesting in Victoria. The panel recommended the Conservation Waterfowl Conservation and Harvesting Model, which provides: and Harvesting • transparency in how the annual harvest regulations (i.e. season Model. length and bag size for each species) are recommended to the Minister, leading to reduced conflict among stakeholders • assurance that harvesting in Victoria is unlikely to adversely affect the sustainability of waterfowl populations in eastern Australia • increased understanding of the key drivers of waterfowl dynamics in eastern Australia, particularly the relative importance of wetland area and harvesting • development and maintenance of waterfowl research, management and monitoring expertise in Victoria. The government will introduce a pilot of the Waterfowl Conservation and Harvesting Model in Victoria for three years and assess whether the model is fit-for-purpose and appropriate for full implementation. 4.6 We will improve Gathering data about hunting activities is critical to inform the the quality of development of policy and regulation of game hunting. data that is In 2008-09, the then Department of Sustainability and Environment collected and conducted the Improved Monitoring of Game Harvest project, which monitored issued mail and telephone based surveys to a sample of Victoria’s about hunting 46,000 licensed hunters and asked them questions about harvesting activities. numbers and effort. In order to gather similar information, the government will: • continue to conduct regular telephone interviews with licensed hunters, to gain a current understanding of the levels of hunting activity and how it changes throughout the year • explore new technologies to collect this information.
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