Fewer birds shot

Duck-shooting opens this weekend. Police will be conducting breath-testing  in rural areas. PHOTO...
PHOTO: FISH & GAME NZ
Duck-shooters killed slightly fewer birds and spent less time in the mai mai on the opening weekend of the game bird season in Otago this year.

This was despite strong mallard and paradise shelduck trend counts before the season opened, Otago Fish & Game officer Jayde Couper said.

"Fine weather played a major part in the opening weekend success rate being slightly down," Mr Couper said.

The good news was there were plenty of birds left for the rest of the three-month season, he said.

Fish & Game has been surveying duck-shooters for 30 years to gather information on activity and success over opening weekend and throughout the season.

This year, Otago’s average bag on the May 7-8 opening weekend was almost 12 birds, including mallard, grey and shoveler ducks, paradise shelducks and black swans.

Total bags were down slightly by one bird compared with a five-year average.

"Mallard bags averaged eight birds, almost two below normal," Mr Couper said.

"But parrie bags were up by almost a bird per hunter."

Duck-shooters spent an average of nearly 11 hours in the mai mai on opening weekend. This was about an hour less than usual and could be explained by fewer shooters out on the Sunday.

Less than 1% of shooters reached their daily bag limit of 25 mallards.

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