Pre-season fowl numbers soar across Central South Island region

Black swans congregate at the Otipua Wetlands.
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/FAIRFAX NZ

Black swans congregate at the Otipua Wetlands.

 

A major boost in black swan and paradise duck populations has been confirmed ahead of the start of the game bird hunting season.

The season in the Central South Island Fish & Game region opens on May 7 and finishes on the last Sunday in July.

Fish and Game officer Webb said there had been a 40 per cent increase in black swan numbers region-wide since last season.

The paradise duck count at Wainono Lake and wetland reserve was 15 per cent higher, adding to an overall count that was great news for water fowl hunting.

"The increase in parrie and black swan numbers is welcomed by duck hunters," he said on Wednesday.

"The black swan season and bag limit is as relaxed as it can be now encouraging hunters to hunt black swans."

The jump in black swan numbers could be attributed to natural population fluctuations, he said.

"We have got 35 years of records for black swan numbers and they do fluctuate frequently.

"Four to five years ago there was a drop in numbers and restrictions were placed around their hunting around Wainono Lake.

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"It took two to three seasons to get it back to normal. Now the numbers have gone up again.

"The black swan population of the South Island's east coast is migratory. They move around between large coastal habitats quite frequently."

While black swans were considered "incidental" birds by many shooters, parries were the second-most hunted game birds in the region, he said.

"Last year we had a moult count of 8000 to 12,000 parries.

"After the moult, the birds disperse and will have settled into the surrounding districts by opening day."

Fellow officer Rhys Adams said dabbling duck numbers were almost exactly the same as the 2015 counts across the Canterbury plains. They were just above the long term average in terms of birds per kilometre.

"The Canterbury Plains dabbling duck population is stable long term, if not slightly increasing over time.

"Irrigation ponds held the biggest mobs of birds and riverbed braids seemed less attractive."

Hunting pressure on opening day would disperse birds into all available habitats, he said.

 - Stuff

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