Ben Hill is a reporter for The New Zealand Herald

Duck hunting injuries shoot up over last few years

Sprains and fractures are on the rise and a warning has also been sounded about water safety while hunting. Photo/ Northern Advocate
Sprains and fractures are on the rise and a warning has also been sounded about water safety while hunting. Photo/ Northern Advocate

The cost of injuries during the duck hunting season has almost quadrupled in the past two years.

Data provided to the Herald by ACC shows 55 claims were made for injuries relating to duck hunting in the May-August season last year, costing $57,805.

In 2015, 37 claims were made with the cost reaching $28,918.

In 2014, 27 claims were made totalling $14,597.

An ACC spokeswoman said half of the claims relating to duck shooting since 2014 have been for soft tissue injuries, including sprains, strains and contusions.

The next three most common injuries were lacerations, punctures or stings, foreign body in orifice or eye, and fractures or dislocations.

Meanwhile, duck hunters are being urged to wear lifejackets when hunting on waterways this game bird season, which runs until the end of August, particularly as the wet winter weather sets in.

Water levels in some parts of the North Island still much higher than normal as a result of the recent storms which deluged the country.

In early April, Cyclone Debbie brought heavy rain and flooding to many regions and floodwaters still haven't completely subsided in some regions, such as Bay of Plenty and Waikato.

Fish & Game Auckland Waikato region southern game bird manager David Klee said the high water levels may cause problems for hunters when the game bird season opens.

"The amount of water around is phenomenal. While water levels have been dropping, there have been places you could usually walk to which may still be inaccessible or only able to be reached by boat and some maimais may be flooded.

"At one stage, it looked like hunters might be shooting from the roof of their maimais."

Hunters need to take care around water, he said.

"Always wear a lifejacket when you are on the water and avoid overloading boats with mates, equipment and dogs," he advises.

Water Safety chief executive Jonty Mills said about a third of all preventable drownings over the past couple of years have occurred in rivers.

"We urge all hunters to use caution and make safety a priority. Assess the risks and look after yourself and others. We want all hunters to come back to their families this season."

Auckland-Waikato Fish & Game officer John Dyer said the risks are very real.

"The guy who sold me my first inflatable lifejacket drowned while topping up his duck feeder in a flood. He couldn't swim and we spent a couple of days looking for him."

- NZ Herald

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