HOOKED ON THE PRESENT
• Fish & Game’s landmark mallard research project has finished its first season and, while there are another two seasons of research still to be completed, interesting preliminary data is already emerging. From the information obtained during the 2014 breeding season, it appears that predators are to blame for the majority of nest losses. An unexpectedly high number of females were killed during incubation while on their nests.
• Fish & Game reports that rangers out on opening weekend of the 2015 game bird season were largely happy with the levels of compliance they encountered. Hundreds of hunters throughout the country were checked over the early part of the season and only a handful weren’t playing by the rules -- using lead shot near water and hunting without a licence being the most common misdemeanours.
• Good news for the future of the duck hunting: the number of young Kiwis who have taken up the pursuit has increased by more than 70% in the past 14 years. In 2000, there were 1804 junior whole season licences sold. In 2014, that number had jumped to 3097. This is in line with adult licence sales. In 2000, there were 30,159 licences of all kinds sold. In 2014, 36,962 licences of all kinds were sold. It is estimated that many more thousands of hunters shoot under the land occupier privilege.
• Unfortunately, the 2015 game bird hunting season has been marred by the dumping of duck carcases in public. Not only do the perpetrators of such an idiotic act risk a $5000 fine, but they also bring all other hunters into disrepute. Although the incidents have been isolated, members of the public who come across discarded game readily associate all game birds hunters with this unethical and illegal practice.
• Could mallard duck numbers be back on the increase after a period of lean years? Latest monitoring by a number of North Island Fish & Game Regions points to that being the case. Anecdotal observations by hunters ahead of the 2015 season’s start also suggested an increase in duck numbers. It is hoped that, if this trend of population increase continues, then more liberal regulations and bag limits might be on the cards for some regions.
• One of two Bay of Plenty men convicted of poaching spawning trout last winter from a stream near Rotorua has received a precedentsetting jail term. Thomas Tawha, 41, of Kawerau, was jailed for 12 months. In handing down his sentence, Judge Weir said it had been the most serious poaching case of its kind in the last decade anywhere in New Zealand. His co-offender -- David Pake Leef, 35, of Te Teko -- failed to appear in court and a warrant for his arrest has been issued.
• Fish & Game elections will be held in October 2015. Fish & Game councils are elected by adult whole season licenceholders. The ballot gives anglers and hunters a chance to have a say about who best represents their recreational interests. All Fish & Game councils provide an essential role in the ‘user pays, user says’ democratic management of sports fish and game birds. This system is unique in the world and relies on anglers and hunters being prepared to stand for election and also voting for who they want on their regional Fish & Game councils. If you’re eligible, please ensure your take time to vote or, better still, stand for your local council.
• After years of denial, a Dairy NZ scientist has finally broken rank and admitted that the drive for increased production has actually left farmers worse off. He recently told Radio NZ that between 2003 and 2013 the average dairy farmer added 100 cows to the herd, but were no better off financially because they have to spend more on supplementary feed and “are damaging the environment in the process”. Fish & Game and others have for years been warning that the blind race for more production is unsustainable environmentally and economically.
• ‘A final nail in the coffin for the Ruataniwha Dam’ is how the latest Board of Inquiry (BoI) decision is being described. The BoI has affirmed that the limits regulating nitrogen in the waterways -- limits strongly opposed by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and its investment arm -- would stand. Most importantly, the BoI made clear that farmers using water from the scheme would need to operate such that the nitrogen limits would be met by 2030. Fish & Game has lead the case against the Ruataniwha Dam because of concerns about water pollution arising from the agricultural intensification a dam would facilitate.