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The end of the dry season signifies the commencement of one of the Top End’s favourite pastimes with the start of the 2021 waterfowl hunting season.

The recreational waterfowl hunting season will run from 22 September 2021 to 10 January 2022 on designated hunting reserves with a daily bag limit of 3 magpie geese and 10 ducks.

per person. If hunters have the express permission of the landholder, they can commence shooting from 16 August 2021 on private property.

All waterfowl hunters are required to have a waterfowl hunting permit and a valid firearms licence. A bow and arrow may be used to hunt waterfowl; however, crossbows are not permitted.

Hunters in possession of a valid Parks and Wildlife waterfowl permit will be able to hunt on:

• Parks and Wildlife hunting reserves: Lambells Lagoon Conservation Reserve and Howard Springs Hunting Reserve from 22 September until 23 December and Shoal Bay Coastal Reserve and Harrison Dam Conservation Reserve from 22 September until 10 January);

• Private property: if you have the express approval of the landholder and can meet the setback conditions under the Firearms Act from 16 August until 10 January 2022. Hunters are reminded that the use

of lead shot is strictly prohibited.

The ban is monitored as lead shot residue in wetlands poisons waterfowl which in turn causes health issues for those who eat them. This ban is in line with the national strategy to combat this problem.

Not having a permit may result in fines being issued and breaking permit conditions may result in cancellation of your permit and fines being issued.

Permits are issued from the Parks, Wildlife and Heritage Permits Office at Jape Homemaker Village, Millner, between the hours of 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, or online at https://

Applications must be accompanied by the $20 annual fee or $80 fee for a five year permit and evidence of a valid firearms Licence. The Permits Office can be contacted on telephone 08 8999 4486 for more information.

A waterfowl survey undertaken by the Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security (DEPWS) this year found magpie geese numbers had decreased on last year’s figure.

“The 2021 survey gave an estimated population of 980,000 magpie geese, which shows a decline of 31% from the previous year, off the back of very poor wet seasons in 2018/19 and 2019/20,” said the Department’s Dr Tim Clancy.

“The bag limit aims to balance recreational hunting opportunities and other types of harvest, while maintaining a healthy goose population and ensuring long term sustainability of use.” Dr Clancy said this year’s waterfowl surveys were flown over floodplains across the Top End between the Moyle River and Murganella Creek, and also included the Arnhem Land floodplains.

“During the survey we flew a total of 7,786 kilometres of transects in a light plane 61 metres above the ground,” Dr Clancy said.

“There were two experienced observers in the plane who counted the number of magpie geese in a strip 200 metres wide on either side of the plane.” “We also counted the number of nests, which can be seen from the air as flattened grass and sedge platforms.”

“These aerial surveys use a long established scientific method and give a very robust estimate of the total magpie geese population,” Dr Clancy said.

“There have been aerial surveys of magpie geese intermittently since 1983 and annually using a standardised approach since 2011.”

“Data on population size and trends, as well as information from hunting returns, are used to set a sustainable level of harvest each year. It is important that we have accurate information on waterfowl hunting effort so I would encourage all licensed hunters to fill in their hunting return paperwork at the end of the season”

for more information about this year’s aerial survey.


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