New and flawed game hunting regulations are about to be imposed on Victorian hunters, who have just a few weeks to force the government to fix the problems in the laws.
The Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012 contain some good news for hunters but miss the mark in a number of areas that Field and Game Australia has highlighted to help hunters make a submission.
Submissions must be completed now, though, as the deadline is 20 August and the only way to improve the regulations is to tackle them immediately.
FGA wants lead shot exempted from the ban in the limited circumstances when steel shot would be dangerous or is not available. This is particularly relevant to the use of .410, 16-gauge and 28-gauge shotguns, favoured by young shooters for their lighter recoil.
FGA also wants the regulations to ban anti-hunting activists from all legally hunted areas, not the narrowly defined ‘specified’ areas. It believes the hours of exclusion – which focus on opening weekend – are not sufficient to strengthen safety and reduce clashes with activists.
Penalties for protesters should be increased, says the FGA
“A woman was accidentally shot in 2011,” the FGA said in its submission. “We want to avoid the potential for a similar incident in the future.”
The proposed regulations will add Harriers to the list of approved hunting dog breeds, but the FGA says there are other suitable breeds that must be considered.
Brown quail should be added to the legal gamebird species, partly because their numbers are increasing.
Despite the problems, the regulations have been well received by hunters.
They contain numerous changes, such as redefining spotlights to reflect modern technology; creating the ‘deer hunting’ class of dog; allowing red deer to be hunted all year; and broadening the use of electronic devices such as radios and GPS collars.
Most license fees see minor change, some downwards, and under-18s will be exempt.
The regulatory impact statement acknowledges that "in Victoria, recreational game hunting has occurred for over 150 years and remains a popular and culturally significant activity".
It also says "it is important that the proposed regulations impose the lowest possible burden on hunters, while achieving government other objectives".
The full statement, which summarises the changes, is available on the FGA website.
On the same web page, the FGA has templates for hunters to make a submission.
Submissions should be sent directly to Zachary Powell, Game Victoria, DPI, 1 Spring St, Melbourne 3000; or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Details are also available on the DPI website.