Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

More duck hunters break law this year

Local Fish and Game rangers say they are disappointed at the number of hunters breaking the rules after the opening weekend of the game bird season.

Eastern Region Fish and Game officers and honorary rangers checked nearly 300 hunters on the weekend, in a co-ordinated, targeted ranging operation.

They covered areas including the Bay of Plenty's coastal reserves, parts of the Waikato River and Reporoa, forests including Rotoehu and the Gisborne-East Coast district, finding 13 hunters not complying with rules.

Eight were found hunting without licenses, three were using lead shot in 12-gauge shotguns within 200m of open water and two shot more than the catch limit.

Operation chief, Fish and Game officer Anthony van Dorp, said non-compliance on opening weekend was higher than in previous years.

"Guys might think it's worth taking the risk, but they've got to weigh up whether they could give up their expensive shotgun, any ducks they've shot and other hunting gear just for the sake of a $90 hunting license."

Fish & Game staff also teamed up with police to ensure firearms regulations were being followed and found a small number of hunters consuming alcohol against the "guns and alcohol don't mix advice and laws".

"Most hunters have got the message to leave the beers until hunting is over and the guns are secured away but we still need to get it through to a small minority," Mr van Dorp said.

Following the late-summer drought, the Eastern Region season for mallard and grey ducks has been shortened to four weeks, although upland game birds like pheasant and quail, paradise shelduck and black swan - have a longer season extending into July and August depending on species.

Results from opening weekend suggested mallard numbers were down across the region, although many hunters managed to collect their limit of paradise ducks, especially in the Eastern Bay and East Cape areas.

"We saw flocks of paradise ducks as thick as flies in parts of the Gisborne and East Coast area and there were large flocks in paddocks out the back of Whakatane," Mr van Dorp said.

A handful of banded birds were also seen by Fish and Game officers and they want to hear from any hunters who harvested more, by writing, phoning or emailing with details of the bird and its band number.

They also want information on any birds shot which have a radio transmitter fitted.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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