Protesters in a flap over duck hunting

PROTESTERS will occupy wetlands from this weekend as the duck season opens, despite warnings from hunters that they do so at their own peril.

Against Animal Cruelty spokesman Chris Simcox said at least 20 protesters in high-visibility clothing would actively oppose the season start on Saturday to rescue ducks injured by shooting.

``To be effective, that involves being on the wetlands,'' he said.

``Duck shooting is very much a hit and miss affair.''

But Tasmanian Field and Game Association spokesman Peter Darke said Tasmania should follow Victoria's lead and exclude protesters from all wetlands with a 25-metre exclusion zone as unlimited access endangered lives.

He said protesters had been known to slip down swan holes in lagoons and risk their lives by  Leg 1removing decoy ducks from the front of hides.

Mr Darke defended accusations that the sport was cruel, saying hunters not only provided stock control but prevented some crop damage perpetrated by wood and mountain ducks.

The Primary Industries Department has issued 892 shooting licences this year, down from 1032 last year. Hunters registered 41,552 kills with the department for last year's season.

Only the Pacific black duck, chestnut teal, grey teal, mountain duck and Australian wood duck are allowed to be taken.

Hunters must take a waterfowl identification test to get a licence.

Shooting duck between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise is prohibited and ducks can only be shot by guns below 12 gauge.

The wild duck daily bag limit is 10. The season ends on June 10.

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