Lily D’Ambrosio fails to dump flawed restriction on hunting in 360,000ha of crown land.
HUNTERS’ rights to enter 360,000ha of Victorian state forest to shoot deer and other game have been blocked by a 20-year-old Government policy that appears to contradict its own legislation.
The state’s 37,000 recreational deer hunters have been told they cannot enter vast tracts of crown land straddling the Great Dividing Range, without first gaining the permission of farmers holding grazing licences over the region.
But Australian Deer Association spokesman Barry Howlett said hunters could not access details on who owned the licences and had gained advice the policy breached the Land Act.
ADA-commissioned research by the Public Land Consultancy found while hunters needed permission to enter private land, they did not need to do the same when entering grazing licences held over crown land owned by the state.
“We’ve presented this legal advice to DELWP bureaucrats in July, who told us it’s in line with their own advice,” Mr Howlett said.
But he said nothing had happened since then, despite meetings and correspondence with DELWP bureaucrats, including its Land Policy director Will Guthrie.
“Given that the policy has been in place for nearly 20 years we accept that there will be sensitivities to the change, particularly around the pre-winter mustering period for the cattlemen,” Mr Howlett said.
“The key hunting groups have committed to working with the Mountain Cattlemen’s Association of Victoria, Game Management Authority and DELWP to improve communication and address any concerns, but, ultimately, government policy must reflect the legislation.”
MCAV president Graham Stoney said grazing licence holders were obviously concerned some hunters may interfere with livestock.
“Our people are not happy, but the department has told us we don’t have the legal right to demand hunters gain permission before entering licenced areas,” Mr Stoney said.
“Hunting groups have offered to work with us to minimise any impacts on mustering, but we also need the Government to put more resources into GMA to police hunters.”
The Weekly Times was unable to gain any response from Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio’s office on what action was being taken.