Dry farming season prompts special game bird hunting weekend in King Country

The special season will take place at the end of February.
The special season will take place at the end of February. Photo credit: Getty

A special game bird hunting weekend in the King Country later this month will give hunters a chance to get out shooting during the summer months, while at the same time help out farmers in the area.

Licenced game bird hunters will be allowed to harvest up to 10 paradise shelduck and 10 pukekos each per day on February 27 and 28, Fish & Game said on Friday.

They can hunt all of the area of the Waitomo, Otorohanga, Taupo and Ruapehu District Councils, that lies within the Auckland/Waikato Fish and Game Region.

John Dyer, northern game bird manager, said the goal of the summer season is to break up and disperse flocks, so they don’t become a problem for farmers who depend heavily on grass and crops to feed their cattle during the dry months.

"By dispersing and breaking up larger flocks into more acceptable smaller groups, hunters are showing their commitment to managing this species and also harvesting some healthy game meat in the process," Dyer said.

Fish & Game said hunting was allowed on the two days between 6:30am and 8pm, with hunters needing either a 2020 season licence or a day licence to take part.  

Dyer said rangers would be patrolling the area to "ensure hunters played by the rules".

"It is important that hunters stick to bag limits. If a farmer has large numbers of birds on a crop, hunters should consider inviting along extra friends to legally move on the numbers required, rather than exceed their bag- limit."

The traditional duck shooting season begins in May, with around 40,000 New Zealanders taking part in hunting each year.

Animal rights groups say the sport is "inherently cruel" and say more should be done to protect the country's birds, but hunters defend the sport and maintain the hunted species are either stable or increasing.