In Australia, we have federal rules around firearms but the licensing and application of rules for hunting and shooting is managed by each state. This can lead to plenty of conflicting messages and confusion at the best of times, let alone in the middle of a global pandemic when rules seem to change daily. We have compiled a handy list to let you know what the hunting rules are by Australian state during the Covid-19 pandemic. Please note: this information was correct at the time of publication but the situation does seem to change almost daily. For the most accurate, up-to-date information on rules and regulations around hunting and fishing in your area, please check with the relevant authorities in your state.
New South Wales allows local hunting and fishing but no long distance travel
Updated to add: From 6 April 2020, hunting on state land in NSW will no longer be allowed. However, hunting is still permitted in New South Wales on private land with a few specific requirements and rules:
- Hunting is allowed on private property as long as you adhere to strict movement laws and social distancing laws.
- If you normally hunt or fish for meat for your table, or have hunting and/or fishing as part of your regular exercise routine, you can continue as long as you do so locally and close to home, and stick to the 2-person rule.
- While hunting and fishing is allowed in your local area, the recommendation is still that staying inside your own home with your own family is the safest option.
- Under no circumstances can you travel long distances to hunt or fish. Hunting or fishing cannot be used as an excuse to go on a holiday, go camping or head out into country NSW. This is particularly important during the Easter long weekend.
- Police will be patrolling regional NSW and conducting high visibility policing operations, and can issue $1000 infringement notices to anyone detected travelling without a reasonable excuse, or caught trying to bend the rules.
For the most up-to-date information on hunting in NSW during Covid-19, go to: https://preview.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/public-health-orders or https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/hunting/where-can-i-hunt
Limited hunting allowed in Western Australia
Hunting in Western Australia even outside of a global pandemic is not the easiest thing to get your head around, with a variety of different rules and regulations on what can and can’t be hunted, who can hunt those animals and where. So trying to find a single source of information on how those many regulations have changed as a result of Covid-19 wasn’t easy. We called the Department of Parks and Wildlife and asked them directly. We can’t say they really clarified much, but we did find out a couple of important things.
If you are normally allowed to hunt in Western Australia and have all the correct licenses and permits in place, you can continue to hunt under those conditions provided that you don’t travel outside of your allowed district. As part of their Covid-19 response, Western Australia has implemented strict intrastate travel restrictions. For details on what these are, go to https://www.dpird.wa.gov.au/covid19-response
It is also important to note that Western Australia has banned the sale of firearms or ammunition during Covid-19, and banned access to all shooting ranges and gun clubs. An exemption is in place for farmers and rural landholders to have access to ammunition for pest control and animal welfare reasons.
So yes, while you can technically still hunt in your local area, there are plenty of hoops to jump through and no resupply available.
Queensland continues to make it difficult for hunters
Like Western Australia, Queensland has also closed all gun stores and made it illegal to purchase firearms or ammunition during the Covid-19 pandemic. The QLD government received a lot of backlash for what was seen as a knee jerk reaction. The government has since issued an exemption for farmers and people who require a firearm for work.
The QLD Police Weapons Licensing website has some information around changes specific to Covid-19 but it’s mostly to tell people there will be long delays and unmanned telephones!
Queensland does not allow public land hunting at all and Queensland based hunters can only hunt on private land with direct permission from the owner.
Like most states, Queensland currently has restrictions in place requiring people to remain in their homes unless going to work, getting supplies, getting medical attention, or getting exercise. Initially the QLD Premier said hunting and fishing was not considered essential. She has since backflipped on fishing, but we could not find anything with regards to hunting.
In a state not known for its friendliness towards hunters, it would be wise to exercise extreme caution and check directly with the relevant authorities.
Victoria says NO to hunting and fishing
Like Queensland and Western Australia, Victoria has also closed gun stores and banned the sale of firearms or ammunition during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The statement below was taken directly from a media release from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, and makes it very clear that hunting and fishing are not allowed.
“Unfortunately, this means no fishing, no hunting, no boating, no camping, and no golf. Hang up your rods, leave the tinnie in the driveway, and clean your clubs at home,” Professor Sutton said.
Tasmania allows hunting and fishing but day trips only
Despite having some of the toughest travel and border restrictions in place, the Tasmanian government has come out and stated that hunting and fishing is allowed, provided people follow the guidelines. These guidelines include no overnight stays or camping, and sticking to the 2-person rule.
There is no Covid-19 specific ban or restriction on the sale of firearms or ammunition.
Hunting seasons stay open in South Australia
The Department for Environment and Water states that duck hunting is still allowed for local hunters provided they stick to the 2 people rule and practicing appropriate social distancing.
The 2020 Quail Season will not go ahead.
Hunting of feral species including deer should still be okay provided people follow all other guidelines around Covid-19 and stay local.
Recreational fishermen are being encouraged not to travel unnecessarily and to only fish close to home.
In a slight change from other states, South Australia is still encouraging people to get out in nature and explore state parks and reserves.
Hunting and fishing still allowed in Northern Territory but restrictions in place on travel into remote communities.
Like most states, NT also has restrictions around gatherings and travelling around during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, we spoke to someone in the Northern Territory Government to find out exactly how those restrictions apply to hunting and fishing.
Hunting and fishing is still allowed provided people abide by the two people rule (with the exception of families), and practice appropriate social distancing.
Due to an increased risk to indigenous Australians around Covid-19, the Northern Territory government has restricted travel into remote communities where a lot of big game hunting for water buffalo, scrub bulls, feral pigs and feral donkeys takes place.
It’s also worth noting that failure to comply to these restrictions can result in fines of up to $62,800!
Unclear on Australian Capital Territory changes
Hunting is only allowed on private property in ACT with the permission of the land owner. We could not find any information specific to hunting and fishing during Covid-19, so like other states, would assume this means abide by normal rules with appropriate social distancing guidelines.
DISCLAIMER: This information was accurate at the time of publication. Due to the fast-changing nature of current events, we cannot guarantee the accuracy after publication and acknowledge things may change. Always check with the appropriate authorities for up-to-date information.
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