With the duck shooting season set to get underway on Saturday, hunters in the Waikato are being urged to clean their equipment between waterways.
The plea from Waikato Regional Council comes in a bid to stop the spread of unwanted freshwater pests.
Problems like didymo, hornwort and alligator weed are threatening rivers, streams and lakes in the region and there are fears that duck shooters might help spread the harmful organisms.
"Once in a waterway they can disperse rapidly causing significant economic impacts, as well as destroying the environmental, recreational and aesthetic values of our waterways," said Darion Embling, leader of Waikato Regional Council biosecurity pest plants team.
"We still have a chance to stop the spread of these invasive pests. To date there have been no positive confirmations of didymo in the North Island, and the freshwater weed hornwort which is wide-spread throughout the North Island has recently been eradicated in the South Island."
Embling warned that some pests are so small they can be spread by a single drop of water and in some cases, the damage they do is irreparable.
"Only a couple of years ago Lindavia intermedia, which produces a slime known as lake snow, was found for the first time in the Waikato and there's no known way of removing it once it's present."
Embling urged hunters to check, clean and dry equipment that has come into contact with river or lake water - particularly boots, decoy, boats and boat trailers - when they move between waterways.
The duck shooting season was originally scheduled to begin on May 2 but was postponed due to COVID-19.