Taranaki hunters are being reminded to keep themselves and others safe and to check, clean, and dry this season, to avoid spreading aquatic pest plants between waterways.
Over the last four years the NZ Mountain Safety Council (MSC) has run a firearms safety campaign each duck shooting season targeting the opening weekend of the much-anticipated season.
After the release of a new emotive safety video in May 2020, MSC identified a further decrease in firearms-related safety incidents, the lowest since reliable records began in 2004.
May 1 marked this season's duck shooting opening weekend and MSC hope the positive trends in reduced safety incidents are maintained.
MSC chief executive Mike Daisley says traditionally duck shooting season is one of the biggest events on the hunting calendar, however, every year some hunters find themselves experiencing firearms-related incidents in the maimai.
"Last year's figures are very encouraging because it shows duck hunters are thinking about their behaviour around firearms and recognising the safety impacts of bad habits."
The video campaign, which was a finalist the 2020 TVNZ NZ Marketing Awards, follows a father and son who head out to the maimai for a day of duck shooting.
However, the son leaves early after his father refuses to unload his gun and turn on the safety as they break for a cup of tea.
The aim of the video was to encourage firearms-related behaviour changes during duck shooting season.
"Let old habits die, not your mates" has proven to be success as for the first time since reliable records began in 2004, the 2020 season did not yield a single person being shot by another duck hunter, or by themselves.
Mike says quite often it's a generational barrier that drives old habits, and the video hopes to get hunters thinking about their own habits to make changes where needed.
"We want hunters to be safe and enjoy duck shooting season, but we want them to do it safely."
Taranaki Regional Council environment services manager Steve Ellis says it is important to check, clean, and dry to protect waterways. He says following three simple steps can make a significant difference to the health of the region's waterways.
"Pest plants such as hornwort and Lagarosiphon (commonly known as oxygen weed) and pest fish such as koi carp, gambusia, rudd and catfish are invasive and can have an irreversible impact on freshwater ecosystems and fisheries.
"Once a pest plant or fish gets into a waterway it's extremely difficult to remove it. That's why it's so important we do everything we can to prevent them spreading into previously unaffected waterways."
Steve is urging duck hunters to check, clean and dry all gear that has been in the water.
"It only takes a small piece of weed caught on a wader, dinghy or decoy rope to ruin a once-pristine lake. We know Taranaki people care about the health of our waterways, so all water users need to do their part to stop the spread of pests."
Check: Check everything that has been in the water for debris or plant matter. For example, waders, dogs, dinghies and boat trailers, and decoys and their rigging lines.
Clean: Soak the items or scrub them with detergent (five per cent detergent in water or two per cent household bleach in water) for at least one minute, getting them fully wet.
Dry: If you're not moving to another waterway for a few days, thoroughly dry your items inside and out, and leave them for 48 hours to ensure that any pests are dead.