‘Good weather for ducks’- Fish & Game tips better game bird season as rain ends Indian summer
The sudden arrival of rain over much of the country this week is being described as “good weather for ducks” with the gamebird season opening on Saturday 7 May.
Tens of thousands of eager game bird hunters will be turning out on Saturday to harvest game birds for the family table in a tradition dating back generations.
Fish & Game New Zealand says there’s more opportunity for hunters this season, thanks to healthier duck populations and more liberal bag limits. But the organisation says the weather will play a big part in determining if the opening weekend is a success.
Communications Manager Don Rood says wind and rain provide the best conditions for duck hunting and the long, hot, dry Indian summer most of the country has been experiencing has worried hunters as the season draws closer.
“The last few days have brought much-needed rain to fill drying dams, streams and rivers and that will improve hunting prospects for this weekend, especially as a good duck breeding season has prompted some Fish & Game regions to relax their bag limits.”
Those Fish & Game regions which have relaxed their regulations because of better bird populations include Eastern in the central North Island, Wellington, Nelson/Marlborough and Southland.
In the Eastern Region, which includes the Rotorua and Taupo lakes, Tauranga and East Cape, the mallard and grey duck season has been extended by two weeks, (7 May – 19 June) and hunters can bag eight mallard or grey ducks a day. That’s two more than they were allowed last season.
Wellington Fish & Game is expecting a “much improved” season with population surveys pointing to an increase in bird numbers across the region. The daily bag limit for mallards has also been increased to eight birds per hunter per day from last season’s six, and the season has been extended from six to eight weeks.
South Island regions have also relaxed their regulations.
Nelson Marlborough has lifted the daily bag limit for paradise shelduck from 10 to 15 in the Tasman/Golden Bay areas, in response to a rising regional population – good news for local hunters.
Fish & Game Officer Jacob Lucas says it’s the first major change in paradise shelduck bag limits in nearly 20 years.
As one example, bird counts in Tasman indicated an increase in the paradise shelduck population of around 15 percent, from 6,500 to 7,500.
In Southland, mallard brood counts this year were the highest they’ve been for seven years, so Fish & Game staff are expecting a “great” season ahead.
‘Rules & regs’
Don Rood is urging hunters in all regions to be sure they take note of the bag limits in their regions and any other regulation changes which have been made for this hunting season.
“Please study the 2016 Game Bird Hunting Guide or our Fish & Game website, www.fishandgame.org.nz, so you are clear on exactly what these the rules and regulations are.”
Mr Rood also urges hunters not to leave buying a game bird licence to the last minute.
“The easiest way to buy one, if you haven’t already done so, is online at home to avoid the inevitable Friday queues at hunting or outdoor stores.”
Mr Rood says Fish & Game is pleased that Hunting & Fishing New Zealand has again come on board to assist the organisation’s duck research. The nationwide firm is offering five duck hunting jackets as prizes for hunters who return information from the research bands put on ducks legs.
“The details on those bands are a vital part of Fish & Game’s research into mallard ducks and allow us to better manage the birds.”
Fish & Game doesn’t need the band itself, just the number on it and one or two other details like where and when you shot the bird, Mr Rood adds.
Ring the free phone number 0800 BIRD BAND (0800-247322).