Police have seized guns and drugs from a recreational duck hunter from Melbourne and suspended his game shooting licence after finding him with illicit drugs during the opening weekend of the hunting season.
Footage taken on Saturday near a lake at St Helens Plains, south-east of Horsham, shows police descending on the area before conducting a body search of one of the men and questioning him over an item found inside his ute.
Matt, a witness who asked for his surname to be withheld, said he was in the area to monitor the opening day of the restricted season when he saw two men snorting white powder before they shot at birdlife at Lake Taylor on Saturday morning.
He said he called police and filmed as they arrived.
“I was there with the Coalition Against Duck Shooting to quietly monitor the hunters to make sure they were following rules and very quickly observed two men snorting white powder off a small picnic table. They then continued to hunt and be in control of firearms," Matt said.
“We called the police who intercepted them as they left and pulled a bag of white powder from the front passenger areas of the car.
“The police later told us it was cocaine.”
A Victoria Police spokeswoman confirmed police were called to St Helens Plains and spoke to two hunters off Fischers Road about 8.30am on Saturday.
“A 21-year-old Hillside man received a diversion for possessing a drug of dependence and had his guns seized and gun licence suspended,” they said.
“The second man was released without charge.”
Police searching a duck hunter and questioning him over the alleged discovery of white powder in his car near Horsham on Saturday morning.
Animal welfare advocates are calling for an immediate suspension to the duck hunting season, labelling the incident, and other alleged breaches in the state’s wetlands, a serious “disregard for law”.
They said other footage captured over the weekend near Ballarat and Bendigo allegedly showed duck shooters stacking into boats, gathering in groups of more than 10, using public barbecues and camping – all of which are against current COVID-19 restrictions.
Animal Justice Party member Andy Meddick said shooters were also captured failing to kill injured ducks, with one even throwing a live bird into a boat to be set upon by two dogs.
“This evidence shows it’s not just our native waterbirds at risk of duck shooters, it’s the safety of all Victorians at risk of crossing paths with coked-up shooters on our public wetlands and on our public roads,” Mr Meddick said.
Police arrive at Fishers Road, Mount Helens Plains.
“It’s clear that the drug-taking shooters had two options: breach camping restrictions for an overnight stay or get in their cars and drive home. Both put the community at risk, both are illegal.
“Daniel Andrews has no other choice… he must cancel the 2020 duck shooting season.”
The Game Management Authority and the Premier’s office have been contacted for comment.