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Otago Fish and Game officer Paul van Klink completed mallard duck monitoring flights over the coastal and South Otago regions on April 9.
''Total numbers are well up on last year and on par with 2015-17,'' Mr van Klink said.
However, the pattern of where ducks were located had changed from previous years.
''Many smaller ponds were much lower or completely dry with no ducks at all. Mallards were in good numbers on larger ponds and along the river transects, especially the Taieri and the Pomahaka.''
He said it had been very dry in South Otago, so several ponds lacked enough water and habitat to support mallard populations.
''Recent rain in Otago should have helped the situation and hopefully, the ducks will spread out amongst the smaller ponds dotted around the countryside, just in time for opening.''
About 4500 duck-shooting licences were expected to be sold.
The bag limit is 25 mallard or grey ducks and 12 paradise ducks.
The main season runs to the end of July and for paradise ducks to the end of August.