Pukeko summer target

By Sophie Ryan

The summer season for game bird hunters kicks off next weekend in a bid to help farmers contain damage to grass and crops from pukeko and paradise shelduck.

The annual summer season was a great way to get in a spot of shooting before the duck season in May, Northland Fish and Game officer Nathan Burkepile said.

The summer season for paradise shelduck runs over the weekend of February 23 and 24, and for pukeko, February 23 through to March 3.

"It helps farmers disperse big flocks of the birds that can cause damage to paddocks and crops," Mr Burkepile said.

Paradise shelduck moult on large open water sites in January, and once the birds can fly again in February they tend to gather in groups.

Rudi Hoetjes, Northland Fish and Game manager, said having a summer hunt outside the normal game season creates a disturbance large enough to disperse them into smaller flocks.

Mr Hoetjes says the summer pukeko season not only helps farmers restrict crop damage but also encourages hunters to target an often overlooked game bird.

"Very few people shoot pukeko," Mr Burkepile said.

"People who do shoot them love to eat them though.

"If you cook them right, they're pretty good eating," he said.

- Northern Advocate

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