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by Claire Allison

Duck shooters now have certainty about when they can head to the mai mai.

May 23 will be opening day, marking the start of the 2020 game bird season, following the Government’s announcement on Monday of the move to Alert Level 2.

In consultation with Fish & Game New Zealand and the Government, the season’s start date was selected so that that hunters had time to equip themselves, prepare their mai mai and travel to their hunting grounds.

A Fish & Game New Zealand spokesman said the Alert Level 2 conditions for game bird hunting were more practical for the hunters and had proven the benefits of waiting versus opting for the restrictions of Alert Level 3.

Under Level 2, hunters would be able to travel inter-regionally and will be able stay overnight at their hunting spots with friends and family.

Central South Island Fish and Game officer Rhys Adams said mallard ducks and paradise ducks are the most targeted game birds during the season and South Canterbury has healthy populations this year.

Mr Adams said mallard ducks and paradise shelduck populations are monitored on the Canterbury Plains and at Wainono Lagoon annually in March.

On the plains, mallard duck numbers were moderate while at Wainono Lagoon the numbers were high 5200 mallards.

Paradise shelduck numbers were some of the highest recorded on the plains since the survey began in 2007.

Mr Adams said black swan numbers recorded at Wainono Lagoon had remained healthy over the past three seasons and had enabled the council to increase the daily bag limit for black swan to five per day for the entire Central South Island Region for the 2020 season.

There would be no extension to the season length due to the delayed start of the season for the Central South Island Region, and the season would finish on the last Sunday in July (July 26).

A licence is still required to hunt game birds, and all hunters should familiarise themselves with the 2020 season regulations.