HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN

 
HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN
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HUNTING AND GAME
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                              HUNTING AND GAME
                         MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN
HUNTING AND GAME MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN
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
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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.
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            HUNTING AND GAME
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            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.
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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.
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            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).
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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.
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            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.
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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.
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            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.
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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.
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            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.
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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.
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            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.
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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.
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            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.
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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.
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            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.
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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.
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            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.
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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.
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            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.
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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.
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            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.
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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.
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            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.
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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.
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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.
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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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