With the game bird season about to open, Taranaki Fish & Game is urging hunters to comply with Covid-19 alert level 2 restrictions.
The duck and pheasant hunting season starts on Saturday, May 23, with the duck season extended to Sunday, July 12. Game bird season usually starts on the first Saturday of May but was delayed due to alert level 3.
Taranaki Fish & Game manager Glenn Maclean says hunters must comply with Covid-19 alert level 2 requirements.
"From a hunting perspective, this means, in particular, keeping groups to less than 10 hunters, maintaining social distancing, not sharing equipment and keeping a record of contact details for everyone," Maclean said.
"Hunters are, however, able to travel to their traditional opening weekend possie and to use equipment like boats."
Most duck hunting opportunities in the region are on private land so it is vital that hunters contact landowners well in advance to work through any concerns, Maclean said.
Summer drought conditions have not been ideal for duck populations in the region but, because the drought covered most of the North Island, there was little incentive for the birds to move elsewhere, he said.
"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 very large aggregations of both mallard and grey ducks and also paradise ducks."
Pheasants did benefit from the dry conditions and Maclean said he expects the hunting opportunities for ducks and upland game will be excellent. Hunters would be aided by a windy opening weekend which would restrict the usual migration of ducks out to sea.
The regulations are unchanged from last season other than the open season for shoveler duck is extended to July 12, consistent with the season for other waterfowl species.
"As usual, Fish & Game will be working to ensure compliance and including that hunters are licensed unless exercising occupier privilege," Maclean said.
"While this season is being held under a unique set of circumstances this year, there is still a good opportunity for hunters working within the alert level requirements to get out and enjoy their passion and the chance to bag a duck for the table."