Ahead of this year’s waterfowl hunting season a recent survey has found magpie geese population rates are on the rise.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have looked over the 2018 waterfowl survey data giving a population estimate of 918,000 magpie geese, a 27 per cent increase on the population estimate after the 2017 survey.
DENR Flora and Fauna Division wildlife use manager, Tim Clancy, said the surveys were flown between April 30 to May 9 2018 over the floodplains across the Top End between the Moyle River and Murganella Creek, and also covered Arnhem Land floodplains.
“It’s very pleasing that magpie geese numbers are showing the start of a recovery from last year’s record low of 725,000,” Dr Clancy said.
“During the survey we flew a total of 8043 kilometres of transects in a light plane 61 metres above the ground.
“There are three observers in the plane that count the number of magpie geese in a strip 200 metres wide on either side of the plane.
“We also count the number of nests, which can be seen from the air as flattened grass and sedge platforms.
“These counts from multiple observers give us very robust data to estimate the total magpie goose population.”
An observer from NT Field and Game also participated in part of the survey.
“This validates the scientific analysis undertaken last year that informed the Government’s decision to put in place a short hunting season and low bag limits in 2017, in order to protect the magpie goose population from further decline,” he said.
Last year’s very low population was linked to very poor nesting in 2013 and 2016 after unfavourable wet seasons.
The Minister for Environment and Natural Resources met yesterday with representatives from Firearms Council, Sporting Shooters Association and NT Field and Game, and there will be further discussions between Department staff and hunters and other stakeholders next week.
Based on the scientific evidence and consultation with stakeholders, the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources will announce the conditions for this year’s waterfowl hunting season by July 1.
A detailed report about the 2018 magpie goose survey is in preparation and will be made publicly available through the Department’s website.