Both Barrels April 2023

  • Auckland/Waikato
  • 19/04/2023

Both Barrels April 2023

It’s no secret this has been one of the wettest years in this region.  Farmers carefully watching their ponds, drains and wetlands tell us this has certainly helped breeding mallards, though pheasants in contrast may have struggled somewhat. 

Botulism has been a problem this summer, especially so in the Whangamarino. 

We have had a great team of helpers in boats picking up as many sick or dead birds and fish as we could to limit the spread.

Bird Care Aotearoa and also both Auckland and Hamilton Zoos have been very supportive with treating affected birds.

Ironically, reports from elsewhere suggest this year has been one of the better ones for botulism.  

Whangamarino rahui, duck-shooting OK: Waikato-Tainui has placed a rahui over areas in the Whangamarino following a devastating outbreak of botulism that has killed a wide variety of wildlife in the cultural and ecologically significant wetland in the lower Waikato catchment.

“We appreciate duck shooting season is rapidly approaching and while there is an active monitoring programme in place it is critical these people can safely undertake their daily tasks” said Waikato-Tainui chair Tukoroirangi Morgan.

Swan bands

It’s been many years since we banded black swans, but a number have recently been banded as part of an Auckland Airport, Fish & Game assisted swan research project on the Manukau Harbour. 

Ten of them this year have also had a neck-mounted radio tracker fitted.  If you get one of these bands, please let us know the details. 

You can certainly keep any bird band (duck or swan), but it is essential that we get its number.

The tracker might need to be recovered, however.  There are a few grey teal also fitted with bands.

If “you find one”, we’d love to know about this too, and of course, every mallard/grey band. 

Tropical cyclones certainly made mallard/grey banding problematic at some sites this year. 

Any game bird band you report makes you eligible for a Hunting & Fishing “Banding Together” prize draw.

New regulations for the season

A few thoughtless louts can spoil things for the rest of us. This has required four rule changes this 2023 season. 

  1. We have a person or persons unknown who thinks it is somehow funny to leave shot game behind in the field. When a rotting swan or similar is found by another hunter a week later on their pond or maimai, it’s no laughing matter. The regulations for this region now state from 2023 onwards:
    • Every person who hunts or kills game shall make all reasonable efforts to retrieve game they have shot as soon as is practicable after shooting it.
    • No person is allowed to shoot at game if they have no means of retrieving it.
    • No person may wilfully leave on the hunting ground any game bird(s) shot or parts of any game birds shot.

  2. The next change involves main season shooting hours in this region. This is so hunters have enough light to positively identify Protected Species, such as grey teal, brown teal and scaup. These three duck species are all increasing and spreading in our region, so use the excellent online resources available to make sure you can recognize their differences - before you pull the trigger.  We have frequently asked for grey teal to be made a “mistake bird”, something which previous government Ministers have been dangling in front of us since 1957.
    Shooting Hours:6.30am to 6.15 pm, except the hunting of paradise shelduck and pūkeko on 18 February to 19 February 2024, will be from 6.30 am to 8.00 pm. 

  3. Shoveler duck limits are now standalone in this region.  This means you can shoot up to 2 of these, per hunter, per day and not have to count them in your mallard/grey/hybrid limit of 8.  (Except on Great Barrier Island where all dabbling ducks are protected).  So, if luck is with you, that’s 8+2=10 dabbling ducks in all.  Paradise shelduck are also counted separately. 

  4. We also have persistent offenders who shoot game birds while under power. This is especially problematic on the Waikato River near Cambridge/Hamilton, where there are now riverside walkways. It is assumed that anyone who has an established maimai already knows the lay of the land and where their safe backdrops are. But a speeding offender OR DRIFT SHOOTER in a boat has a constantly changing horizon and the risk of possible walkers ahead screened by vegetation. Following a well-publicised recent incident of this type in the South Island, it was decided we need to act locally.

    No person may shoot game from any unmoored boat on the Waikato River south of the boat ramp at the confluence of the Mangawara Stream and the Waikato River at Taupiri to the Shakespeare St bridge in Cambridge for the duration of the open season.

    You can, of course, still use a powered boat to get to your location.  But, if your gun/s are not unloaded and fully secured in gun slips for that journey, as required by law, look out! In addition to Fish & Game fines, your firearms licence status may subsequently be reviewed by police. Any convicted offender might potentially need to find another hobby for the next 10+ years.

The Auckland Waikato Fish & Game Councillors and staff wish you all a safe and successful season.

Warm Barrels

John Dyer, Auckland Waikato Fish and Game  

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