Ducks hunted for food in Auckland parks

Birds caught with nets, hooks and airguns

SIMON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 05/09/2012
John Dyer

WORRIED: Auckland Waikato Fish and Game Council northern wildlife manager John Dyer is concerned about people hunting ducks.

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People are catching and killing wild ducks in Auckland parks for food the Auckland Waikato Fish & Game Council claims.

Northern wildlife manager John Dyer wants Auckland Council to erect signs near where the ducks live to deter illicit hunting which has seen the birds captured with nets, slingshots, fish-hooks, dogs and airguns.

He said duck nabbers can be fined up to $20,000 and face a criminal record which may stop entry to or transit through countries such as the United States.

''If these offenders were more aware of the seriousness of the consequences, it's unlikely they'd be so stupid,'' Dyer said.

The problem is particularly prevalent in Howick, Pakuranga and Wattle Downs where houses back onto duck ponds.

Last week people were reported to be running around with nets trying to catch ducks on the corner of Ormiston Rd and Flintridge Dr in Flat Bush.

''However, this is just one of many calls we've had from the public, often in this same general area," Dyer said.

''At this time of year ducks are nesting and a female duck that's able to be caught is probably trying to distract its attackers away from ducklings hidden nearby.

''These will die without their mother.''

Although recent immigrants are often the culprits, ''Kiwis that have been here probably since the first settlers'' are also involved.

''It's just a cultural thing. It might be where they came from if you could grab a wild duck everyone would have probably patted you on the back and said 'clever you'.''

Dyer said people taking the ducks were not hard-up for food.

''We've had people in late-model Mercedes get out in pretty exclusive golf club car parks and try and catch ducks with fish hooks baited with bread.''

In another incident in a Wattle Downs park, a policeman caught two offenders catching ducks and putting them in a bag.

When an officer opened their car door the ducks escaped from an unsecured bag under a seat and flew past him.

A second bag full of ducks was found locked in the boot.

They were convicted and heavily fined, Dyer said.

''The judges are getting tougher, and I suspect a lot of people think 'oh, there's a duck, it's running around, I can snaffle that, what's the risk to me?

''But if they actually knew, I don't think they would think about it for one moment.''

Anyone killing or catching game birds such as wild ducks, swans, pheasants, quail or pukeko without a licence can be fined up to $5000.

There is a further $5000 added to this for selling meat, eggs and feathers, with the maximum fines doubled for businesses.

If anyone sees people illegally taking ducks they can write down the car registration numbers and call police.

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