Warning to duck thieves

SIMON SMITH
Last updated 09:01 06/09/2012
DUCKS
SIMON SMITH

PONDER THIS: Catching or killing wild ducks or pukeko can attract a fine of up to $20,000 and a criminal record, Fish and Game northern wildlife manager Bruce Dyer says.

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A free duck can land you in deep trouble.

People are catching and killing wild ducks in Auckland parks using nets, slingshots, fish-hooks, dogs and airguns, the Auckland Waikato Fish & Game Council says.

Northern wildlife manager John Dyer says 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. He says people are catching the birds for food.

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

He is asking the Auckland Council to erect signs near where the waterfowl live.

Most of the problems happen in Wattle Downs, Howick and Pakuranga where housing backs on to duck ponds. In one such incident early last week people were 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.

"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.

Mr Dyer says it is ironic that others from the same countries are the first to report the abuse.

"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'."

Mr Dyer says people taking the ducks are 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," Mr Dyer says.

"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 get a maximum $5000 fine. There is a further $5000 for selling any part of game such as meat, eggs or feathers, and for businesses the maximum fines are doubled.

If anyone sees people illegally taking ducks they should write down car registration numbers and call police on 111.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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