First wheelchair-accessible maimai

A mallard duck. Photo: Fish and Game
A mallard duck. Photo: Fish and Game
Fish and Game is working to make duck hunting more inclusive by opening the first wheelchair-accessible public shooting maimai in the country.

Tens of thousands of duck hunters were expected to try their luck at bagging a feast on Saturday as the opening day of the game bird season begins.

The wheelchair-accessible shelter is near Te Puke and has a concrete path for easy access, Fish and Game chief executive Corina Jordan said.

"It's being led by our eastern team, John Meikle and supported by a range of volunteers and sponsorship and it's gone down really well with a huge amount of excitement and interest in it," she said.

An old maimai site canal was recontoured and widened, a vehicle maintenance track created alongside it, and a flat pad made for the new stand which was ideal for wheelchair access.

A couple of locally known wheelchair users conducted site visits and also helped to advise on access issues and whether the plans were fit for purpose.


Meanwhile, Otago Fish and Game officer Bruce Quirey said last year, hunters lost out on bigger catches, because they spent less time in the maimai than usual.

"We do hunter harvest surveys every year and we've sort of realised that some of the hunters have been packing up a bit earlier during the day and ... [missing] out on some opportunities later in the day."

After 20 years of gradually phasing out lead ammunition, this season would also be the first when ammunition must be non-toxic, he said.

The SPCA was also reminding hunters to be responsible this duck season to avoid unnecessary animal suffering.

Its scientific officer, Alison Vaughan, said hunters should be competent and knowledgeable.

"If there are birds that are shot and injured but not killed, you must track them down, it's unacceptable not to.

"Every year, SPCA inspectors see animals that have been injured and suffered as a result of being shot so it is really important that people are responsible."

Dr Vaughan said shooters must also look out for the actions of others in their group.


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