2017 duck and quail open seasons

Duck and quail hunting seasons have been approved for South Australia in 2017.

Following an assessment of rainfall data, wetland condition and waterfowl abundance, and also considering whether hunting activities could impact on the conservation and sustainability of waterfowl populations, the South Australian Government has declared restricted duck hunting open season and a full quail hunting open season for 2017. 

The information used in this assessment was derived from the Bureau of Meteorology, the annual DEWNR wetland and waterfowl survey, CSIRO ‘Pastures from Space’ landscape modelling, PIRSA agronomic data and the Eastern Aerial Waterbird Survey.

Seasonal conditions in 2016 have been above average at the local South Australian scale and wetland conditions have also been good at a broader eastern Australian scale. In South Australia, wetland area has increased markedly over the previous season, particularly in the South East, as a result of some heavy rainfall events.  Wetland habitat in the Riverland increased due to high river flows in late 2016 that will continue into early 2017. The waterfowl abundance recorded in the South Australian surveys was lowest on record (since 2003) and this was coupled with a very low density of birds across the surveyed wetlands.

Results from the 34th Eastern Aerial Waterbird Survey (University of New South Wales) indicate that wetland habitat is very much better than the previous two seasons and only slightly below the long term average.  Total water bird abundance is at the lowest level ever recorded in 34 years of surveys, however, water birds are believed to be widely dispersed as a result of improved habitat availability.  Breeding abundance, breeding species richness and wetland area rose sharply compared to the previous year (2016).  Total breeding index was the second highest on record and well above the long term average, however this index was driven by one very high score in survey band three which corresponds to the Murray River Lakes and Lowbidgee wetlands.  All other breeding index scores were below average across the EAWS area.

In summary, there are large areas of favourable wetland habitat.  This would indicate a future increase in duck numbers can be expected. However coupled with lowest-on-record bird numbers and a high breeding index generated from one EAWS survey band only, a precautionary approach is warranted.  

With Stubble Quail, less is known about their biology and natural history, with knowledge restricted to their preferred areas of habitat which include pasture and cereal crop areas. Stubble Quail are highly nomadic, cryptic, and cover dependant. Landscape condition modelling from CSIRO and agronomic statistics have been used as surrogates to help inform decision making about pasture growth rates, cover, and food availability. This information shows that conditions in 2017 will be highly favourable for quail.  

Information about the 2017 hunting season