Lake Burrumbeet residents say they will be ducking for cover this weekend when the first shots are fired in the annual duck season starting this morning.
Resident Susan Moodie described the annual hunt on the wetland just eight minutes west of Ballarat as “dreadful” and a time her family and friends fear.
And with many lakes in the western district closed due to the dry weather, Lake Burrumbeet is set to be a focus for hunters who are expected to converge from all parts of the state.
Dr Moodie said many hunters would end up in the middle of the lake firing back towards roads and paths.
“It’s hard to imagine a less fair match, shooters with high technology weaponry, decoys, whistles, rock hides and hunting dogs pitted against unsuspecting, unprotected peaceful birds in their homes,” Dr Moodie said.
“Locals have seen hunters shooting from boats towards the shore and shuddered at gun shots well before light and after dark.”
Dr Moodie said the season has come at the driest time of the year which has brought birds to sanctuaries like Lake Burrumbeet.
“It’s hard to imagine a less fair match, shooters with high technology weaponry, decoys, whistles, rock hides and hunting dogs pitted against unsuspecting, unprotected peaceful birds in their homes."Dr Susan Moodie
“No only are local and national birds at risk, but international migrants from the northern hemisphere.”
Among the nine closures across the state are Lake Linlithgow near Hamilton, Lake Lonsdale near Stawell, Lake Muirhead south-west of Ararat, Lake Martin near Cressy and Lake Bolac.
Game Management Authority (GMA) Chief Executive Greg Hyams warned hunters and protesters to take care during the season which runs until June 11.
"Under new regulations, hunters must stop shooting once a bird is downed and make all reasonable efforts to immediately recover it,” Mr Hyams said
"While those who oppose duck hunting have a right to protest, they must do so safely and legally. There are significant penalties should protesters unlawfully enter in, or remain on a specified hunting area, or interfere with or harass hunters.
“Public safety laws are in place to protect the broader community, hunters, authorised officers and protesters themselves."
The bag limit will remain at the standard 10 birds per person per day however hunting of the Blue-winged Shoveler will be prohibited due to persistent low numbers of the species.
Predicted hot weather and a potential for total fire bans today and tomorrow means campers also needed to be aware of their rights
If it is a total fire ban, no fires can be lit in the open, these include campfires and barbecues.
To report illegal hunting and kills go to gma.vic.gov.au and for more on what total fire ban conditions are in place, go to cfa.vic.gov.au