New duck survey shows greater numbers

DUCKS ON THE RUN... Aerial surveys conclude there are more ducks than first thought. Photo: Supllied

A PILOT survey, conducted by helicopter in November 2020 has estimated the total number of game approved ducks in Victoria sits at almost 2.5 million.

The recently released survey was conducted by Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research (ARI), the biodiversity research organisation engaged by the Victorian state Government to provide advice on ecologically sustainable land and water management.

The new aerial survey is the largest and most comprehensive survey of game ducks ever undertaken in Victoria, and has been declared the most accurate estimate to date.

The findings, conducted by helicopter, assessed over 650 waterbodies, including lakes, wetlands and farm dams, to produce a total number of foul, satellite imagery was then used to evaluate the amount of water in the landscape. The actual number of ducks was counted, then multiplied to provide an estimate of the total number of ducks present at that time.

The new helicopter survey is the largest and most comprehensive aerial survey of game ducks undertaken in Victoria’s history and, the first time that an accurate estimate of the total number of game ducks has been made possible. Other surveys have provided an index of abundance showing trends over time rather than a total estimate.

The final number, which was recorded just shy of 2.5 million; is much higher than previous methodologies have indicated and means that the sustainable harvest level can be increased reported Victoria’s Game Management Authority (GMA), last week.

With the new data now available, modifications have been made to the previously announced 2021 duck season arrangements. This includes increasing the bag limit from two to five game ducks per day and removing the geographic restriction on hunting teal species. Other details for the 2021 season remain the same.

Victoria’s annual duck season will be officially declared open on Wednesday, May 26, and will last 20 days, closing 30 minutes after sunset on Monday, June 14, 2021. Hunting start times will be delayed until 8:00 am for the first five days of the season from Wednesday, May 26, to Sunday, May 30, inclusive.

During the season, the GMA and partner agencies including Victoria Police, will be patrolling both public lands and private properties to ensure compliance with hunting, animal welfare and public safety laws.

For more information on the aerial survey report, and changes to the previously announced 2021 duck season arrangements, visit