Duck numbers high through the Central Canterbury region
- North Canterbury Central South Island
- Richie Cosgrove
Duck hunters will have plenty of options when the new game bird season starts on the first Saturday in May, any misses will be probably down to the hunter and not due to the lack of birds.
Each year around the country Fish & Game staff conduct survey flights of their regions to determine numbers of birds present so that the hunting harvest is sustainable.
The flights, which visited 66 sites throughout the region, showed numbers of birds were up by 10% to 15,927 for paradise shelduck and black swan numbers were up 38% to 2,750 birds total.
Fish & Game use these population trends counts to determine the setting of regulations for the coming game season which starts in May.
The surveys are conducted in January and February when the birds are congregated for molting and have lost their feathers so are unable to fly for a short period of time, so are easier to count.
It is always a tight schedule for the field staff though with the need to conduct the surveys so that the regional Fish & Game councils are able to make the necessary decisions to keep the hunter harvest sustainable.
In Canterbury the trends counts indicate bird numbers have remained steady or are increasing for the last 11 years.
This has enabled the Central South Island and North Canterbury regions to offer special summer hunting seasons to help farmers out with crop predation by the birds and also let hunters get the most value from their whole season game bird licence.
A video of the operation is available here.