Fish & Game applauds ‘law abiding’ game bird hunters
Fish & Game rangers say its pleasing to see that a “responsible majority” of hunters in the North Island stuck to the rules as the new game bird season opened at the weekend.
The new season began early on Saturday morning, with bags varying widely from region to region in the fine clear conditions that gave waterfowl an advantage.
In the large Eastern Region, which includes the Bay of Plenty and central North Island areas, East Cape, Gisborne and Wairoa, the rate of offending overall was pleasingly lower than last year, according to Manager Andy Garrick.
He says that after rangers spoke to more than 250 hunters, a total of five are being dealt with for offences such as hunting without a game bird licence and possession of lead shot.
Mr Garrick says “it was great to have Police assistance in the ranging operations,” and officers are dealing with one case from Wairoa where a hunter had a game bird licence but no firearms licence.
“Hunters who choose to flout the rules can pay a heavy price which can include court appearances, fines and forfeiting of their firearm.
But overall the opening showed a satisfyingly high level of compliance and hunter responsibility, he added.
Other Fish & Game regions also issued few offence notices. In Taranaki no one was booked, in line with earlier years.
In Northland, two shotguns were seized from hunters who were found to be hunting without licences.
In the Auckland/Waikato Region figures were not yet available but hunters had also stuck to the rules with little offending seen.
Game bird hunting is usually at its best in wind and rain, so the fine weather made hunting difficult in many areas.
In Northland, the hunting was slow but steady, says Fish & Game Officer Nathan Burkepile. “There are plenty of birds and some hunters who stayed out all day did very well, getting their bag limits.”
In Taranaki, fine clear conditions also made things hard but in places like Inglewood, hunters had achieved good bags and were “pretty happy,” says local Fish & Game Officer Allen Stancliff. “Experienced hunters did quite well.”
There are plenty of birds and when conditions change to become more favourable things will pick up, he predicted.
Mr Stancliff said there are opportunities including local oxidation ponds, and hunters should jump shoot streams where are lots of birds. There are also “thousands of paradise duck pairs in paddocks.”
Other areas where lots of ducks have been sighted included the Hauraki Plains. One Auckland-Waikato councillor had described it as their best opening in recent years.
Bright spots included the Kaituna area near Te Puke where ranging staff had seen “hundreds and hundreds of ducks circling.”
In some places such as Ruatoria where mallards had been scarce, hunters had harvested paradise shelduck in healthy numbers.
The gamebird season for mallards will continue until June 1 for Eastern and Auckland/Waikato regions, and June 28 for the rest of the North Island’s regions. Those intending on harvesting gamebirds are again urged to check the regulations booklet before venturing out.
Note: Fish & Game sold more than 37,000 game bird licences nationwide last season (2014) – 32,628 adult, 3103 junior and 1364 child licences.
Pictured top right: Fish & Game rangers check Gisborne hunters.