Taranaki hunters hopeful of high duck numbers after 'great breeding season'

The game bird hunting season is set to kick off on May 1.
The game bird hunting season is set to kick off on May 1. Photo credit: Getty

Taranaki duck shooters are expecting a bumper harvest this year, when the game bird hunting season kicks off on May 1.

According to Fish and Game, a "great breeding season" means mallard numbers are looking good throughout the region, while the Taranaki ringplain has an abundance of paradise shelduck.

"Counts during the January 2021 moult have confirmed that numbers of paradise shelduck remain high on the ringplain and farmers will welcome a harvest of birds that are congregating on paddocks with new-sown grass, particularly those that have had maize crops taken off," Fish and Game said.

The strong conditions come after good autumn rains in Taranaki, meaning ponds and wetlands are now "well-topped up".

"Areas in paddocks that are perpetually damp or hold water following rain have been attractive to both mallards and paradise shelduck and they'll be prime areas for hunting," said Fish and Game field officer Allen Stancliff.

He said while hunters using 12-gauge shotguns have been required to use non-toxic shot for waterfowl hunting since 2004, sub-gauge shotguns such as 20-gauge had been exempted.

However, from May 1 this year hunters are required to use non-toxic shot in all sub-gauges except .410 bore shotguns when hunting waterfowl within 200m of open water more than 3m wide.

Police and Fish and Game officers will be making sure hunters are complying with the new rules, as well as checking they have their game and firearm licences on them, Stancliff said.

He said there were also around 500 banded ducks in the region and asked hunters to report any duck bands they find on birds in their harvest.