Eastern Both Barrels Apr 2017
Fish & Game tips ‘better hunting’ for new game bird season
Game bird hunters in Fish & Game’s large Eastern Region can expect a better hunting season this time around.
Senior Fish & Game Officer Matthew McDougall says Fish & Game is predicting “a better season than we’ve had for the last seven or so years.”
We base this on duck numbers we’ve trapped over summer within the Eastern region, and banding data collected over a 20 year period, he says.
“We trapped 1,500 ducks in total this year which is more than we have in any of the preceding years of trapping and banding.”
Mr McDougall says that what trapping and population modelling tells us is that there are “lots of ducks around in reasonable condition, and we’re predicting that this opening could be one of the best in years.”
Fish & Game’s research, which has included aerial flyovers to estimate bird numbers, indicates a mallard population in the order of 350,000 to 450,000 birds.
Fish & Game’s harvest regulations are set according to estimated duck numbers, and this year’s region wide estimate falls into our “intermediate” zone in which a six week season and daily bag limit of eight birds applies, he says.
Mr McDougall says one area where duck numbers are of concern is Reporoa. Eastern Fish and Game Council has decided to impose more restrictive conditions there with a shorter season which runs from Opening Day on May 6 to June 5 with a daily bag limit of only four mallards.
Tactics? There is still a lot of water around in some areas and the ducks are not in their normal haunts. Staff advise that hunters may have to change how they hunt and be prepared to move out into paddocks where the birds are congregating to feed.
Three shot rule reminder
Hunters need to note other changes to the regulations. This season a three-shot rule applies and hunters are required to plug their shotgun magazines so that the gun holds no more than two shots in the magazine and one in the breech, three shots in total.
It’s timely to remind all hunters to check their Game Bird Hunting Guide booklets, or go online to view hunting regulations here - prior to getting out on Opening Day.
Mr McDougall says that the numbers of other game bird species, including black swan and paradise shelduck, appear to be on a par with previous seasons.
Hunters are encouraged to report any banded birds they might harvest to Fish & Game along with their contact details, the band number, and location and date it was recovered. This will assist mallard research programmes, and sustainable management of the species.