A man who ran over a family of ducks in Queenstown contacted police after the incident received national media coverage yesterday.

A member of the public claimed the man ''intentionally accelerated'' his vehicle towards a group of ducklings and their mother as they crossed Robins Rd about 8am on Tuesday, the Otago Daily Times reported online yesterday.

Sergeant Keith Newell, of Queenstown police, said two ducklings survived the incident, which occurred in front of a group of tourists waiting to board a bus.

A Wellington-based police media adviser said the driver rang police yesterday to say he had attempted to avoid the ducks.


''He believed he had avoided the ducklings, but realised the mother duck had been hit,'' the spokeswoman said.

''He did not stop due to having his son in the vehicle, who would have been upset at what had occurred.''

She could not say if police intended to take action against the man.

SPCA Otago director of animal welfare Dr Helen Beattie said in any case of ill treatment of an animal, the Animal Welfare Act contained penalties ranging from a fine to up to five years in prison.

A successful prosecution relied on an admission of guilt, or evidence that established beyond a reasonable doubt that animals had been harmed as the result of a ''purposeful, knowing act''.

Dr Beattie said such incidents were ''not common at all'' in the SPCA's experience.

On the contrary, its staff rescued many ducklings at this time of year as a result of calls from the public.

''Mother ducks are not necessarily very smart about where they get their broods to hang out.''


She urged motorists to show patience if they encountered ducks and other birdlife on the road.

''It's going to cost you two minutes of your day to let them walk across the road.

''I would say the same thing about passing a cyclist - just be patient.

''At the end of the day you get one shot at this world. You want to be a nice person - do the right thing.''