As we enter alert level 2 across the Taranaki Fish & Game Region, local hunters can now begin to plan for the upcoming duck and pheasant hunting season which will now start on Saturday 23 May.

The duck hunting season has also been extended to Sunday 12 July.

While this will make for a welcome distraction for many hunters after the Covid-19 lockdown, Taranaki Fish & Game Manager Glenn Maclean reminds hunters of the importance of complying with the requirements of alert level 2.

From a hunting perspective, this means keeping groups to fewer than 10 hunters, maintaining social distancing, not sharing equipment and keeping a record of contact details for everyone.

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Hunters are however able to travel to their traditional Opening Weekend possie and to use equipment like boats. Glenn says within the region most duck hunting opportunities are on private land and it is also vital that hunters contact landowners well in advance to work through any concerns.

Glenn says duck prospects coming out of spring had looked promising, and paradise duck moult counts indicated large populations around the Taranaki ring plain. While the summer drought wasn't ideal for these populations, that it extended over most of the North Island meant there was little incentive for these birds to move elsewhere.

Where there were suitable food supplies, such as newly harvested crop paddocks or farmers feeding out maize silage to keep dairy production going,there were large aggregations of both mallard, grey and paradise ducks.

One species that did benefit from the dry conditions was pheasant, and Glenn expects the hunting opportunities for both ducks and upland game will be excellent.

Duck hunting would be aided by a windy Opening Weekend, which would restrict the usual migration of ducks out to sea.

The regulations remain unchanged from last season other than the open season for shoveler duck is extended to 12 July, consistent with the season for other waterfowl species. Fish & Game will be working to ensure compliance, including that hunters are licensed unless they are occupiers.

While this season is being held under a unique set of circumstances, there is still a good opportunity for hunters working within alert level requirements to get out and enjoy their passion.