NATIMUK Lake Caravan Park caretakers are set to lose thousands of dollars in business when the lake is closed to duck hunters.
Game Management Authority announced earlier this week that wetland areas north-west of Natimuk would be closed to hunting due to a large number of freckled ducks.
Affected wetlands include Natimuk Lake and Natimuk Creek Lake Reserve.
Caravan park caretaker Sam Wicks said the park would lose about $3000 in business because of the closure.
He said the duck hunting season usually brought about 150 to 200 people to the park each year and more to the wider area.
“We will lose money left, right and centre,” he said.
“The duck hunting season is good for the park and good for the whole town.”
Mr Wicks said when people visited for the season, they would also spend money at Natimuk business as well as the park.
“We usually sell a few cabins, they are about $500 a piece,” he said.
“Then we have people staying on the ground in their swags.” Mr Wicks said there had been little communication about the closure.
”No one has told us it’s closed,” he said.
“We now have to call people who are booked in to let them know.
“It really hurts to ring people up and tell them not to come.
“It’s like throwing a $100 note up into the wind.
“The authorities need to show some respect to the caravan parks because I bet we aren’t the only ones.”
The lake was also closed for the season last year and Mr Wicks said business struggled then.
“It was the first time it had closed in the eight years we’ve been here,” he said.
“Last year, we were told there were 72 speckled ducks at the lake.
“I am not sure how, in thousands of acres of land at the lake, anyone could stand there and count the exact number of ducks.”
Game Management Authority chief executive Greg Hyams said closing wetlands during duck season was a safeguard that ensures risks to threatened species were managed.
“Surveying bird numbers and closing wetlands where appropriate helps ensure that rare and threatened species are protected,” he said.
“It’s part of our shared responsibility to ensure that hunting in Victoria is conducted respectfully and responsibly."
Other closed wetlands include Tower Hill State Game Reserve near Warrnambool, Lake Muirhead State Game Reserve near Ararat and Big Reedy Lagoon State Game Reserve near Yarrawonga.
“Government officials will continue to monitor the four wetlands closed throughout the season,” Mr Hyams said.
“It really hurts to ring people up and tell them not to come. It’s like throwing a $100 note up into the wind.
“These wetlands might be opened to hunting if circumstances change and the number of threatened birds reduces or they move to other locations.”
The authority is also reminding shooters to brush up on their bird identification skills to avoid killing protected species.
Mr Hyams said hunters should not pull the trigger if unsure of a bird’s species.
“Small numbers of rare and threatened species are scattered throughout the state and hunters should be on the look out and take the time to positively identify their target,” he said. “The illegal shooting of threatened species can put pressure on populations.”
The blue-winged shoveler duck was declared off-limits for this season because of its low numbers,.
But seven other game duck species can still be shot down, and hunters are still permitted to kill 10 birds every day.
The authority offers hunters a duck identification manual, a training video and an online quiz to test knowledge of waterbird species.
Police and game officers will monitor hunters throughout the season.
Mr Wicks said if hunters knew the difference between the ducks, then there was no need to close the lake.
“Shooters are treated like mud,” he said.
Duck hunting season opened on Saturday and runs until June 12.
Daily bag limit of 10 ducks a day will apply, with no blue-winged shoveler permitted during the 2017 duck season.