HOOKED ON THE PRESENT

NZ Fish & Game - - Letters -

• 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.

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