An "unsporting" bird caller has been banned days out from the start of a hunting season.
The Victorian government made a last minute decision this week to outlaw use of electronic bird callers for the popular stubble quail season which opens on Saturday.
"Given how effective quail callers are, their use could pose the risk of overharvesting if it became widespread," the government's Game Management Authority says.
Outraged hunters immediately responded on social media calling the ban an over-reaction, pointing to the already legislated bag limit of 20 birds per day.
The South Australian quail season begins on April 30 with the same 20 bird bag limit per day but no bans on callers.
The Victorian government this week set a $4543 maximum fine for using these bird callers, which retail for $200-$400.
Anyone found using one will have to front court, and could forfeit their game and firearms licences.
Wildlife officers will be patrolling both public lands and private properties across Victoria throughout the season which runs to June 30 to ensure the new law is followed.
The public has also been urged to dob in hunters using the callers through to the GMA via its website www.gma.vic.gov.au or by calling 136 186.
The GMA said it was responding to "concerns from the hunting community that the use of quail callers was not consistent with the concept of fair chase".
The authority also said hunters questioned "the ethics" of using quail callers even though callers have been used by generations of hunters to attract game and vermin such as ducks and foxes.
The GMA asked the Deakin University to investigate the efficacy of the devices which found they "significantly increased the number of quail in the vicinity of the activated caller".
The authority's chief executive Graeme Ford said the research showed the effectiveness of the quail callers and the need to immediately suspend them for the 2022 season.
"As the popularity of these devices is increasing, we need to put their use on hold until the costs and benefits of their use can be fully explored ...," he said.
He said quail callers are already prohibited in many parts of the world.
"Quail callers could contribute to less skilled/equipped hunters being more successful than they would without a quail caller, already skilled and equipped hunters may achieve a higher harvest and some hunters may be encouraged to exceed the current legal daily bag limit. Any of these outcomes could contribute to excessive harvesting," the GMA stated.
Stubble quail is the only native quail species which can be legally hunted in Victoria.
About 175,000 stubble quail are shot each year predominantly on private stubble paddocks with permission needed from the land owner.
The controversial duck hunting season is already under way in Victoria ending on June 13.
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