RECENT patrols by Parks Victoria rangers and Victoria Police to detect and prosecute illegal hunting in parks have resulted in three men being issued with infringement notices totalling $2,166 for hunting in the Lerderderg State Park.
Earlier patrols involving Parks Victoria rangers and game officers at Langi Ghiran State Park, near Ararat resulted in two men being issued with infringement notices totalling $2,300, for possessing weapons and dogs in a park. One of the men also received an infringement notice for driving on a closed road.
Hunting in a park managed under the National Parks Act 1975 (with certain exceptions, mostly applying to the hunting of game species such as deer, ducks and quail) is not permitted and offenders may be fined up to $2,952 for breaching the regulations.
It is also an offence to carry a weapon in a park including firearms, crossbows, longbows, knives and having a dog in a park.
It is an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 in Victoria to use dogs to attack feral pigs. A person who engaged in this type of hunting could be charged with aggravated cruelty, an offence which attracts a fine of up to $72,624 and up to two years' imprisonment.
Damage to management gates and fences by Illegal hunters and others is a costly problem for Parks Victoria. Some tracks are closed for environmental reasons, others due to seasonal conditions from June 12 to October 30 2014.
Tracks are monitored regularly by park rangers to prevent illegal access. Driving on closed tracks is an offence under the National Parks Act 1975 and carries fines of up to $2,952. Courts may also make offenders pay restitution for any damage caused.
Compliance manager with Parks Victoria, Ron Waters, said joint patrols will be continuing throughout the year.
"These kinds of offences are both illegal and unacceptable in parks and reserves. Along with the Victorian Game Management Authority and Victoria Police, we will be continuing our efforts to address illegal hunting and damage to park property with ongoing operations," he said.
Hunting is a legal activity in Victoria and is permitted in a range of public land categories and on private land with the permission of the land owner.
However it must be conducted in a safe, responsible and lawful way. Substantial penalties apply for breaches of the law and hunters may find their firearms and other equipment seized and their Game and Firearms Licences cancelled.
Anyone with information about illegal hunting in parks in the Ararat or wider region is urged to contact Parks Victoria on 13 19 63.