Rangers taken aback by use of lead shot

Good day out . . . Duck-shooters (from left) Jack Webber, Hamish Johnson, Andrew Johnson and Glen Webber get together at an irrigation pond near Fairlie on Saturday, opening day. PHOTO: NIKKI DELLAWAY/F&G

Central South Island Fish & Game rangers were dumbfounded to discover hunters with lead ammunition within 200m of water on opening weekend, nearly 20 years after the practice was banned.

Two teams of Central South Island Fish & Game rangers covered the Fairlie area in the Mackenzie district on Saturday for the opening of the 2024 gamebird season.

Fish & Game officer Rhys Adams said a small number of hunters encountered by rangers were found to be offending, being in possession of lead ammunition within 200m of water.

‘‘Rangers were dumbfounded to encounter this offence, given that the law has been in place for nearly 20 years.

‘‘Fish & Game strongly encourages game-bird hunters to check through their shotgun ammunition stores and separate lead ammunition from non-toxic steel ammunition to avoid any inadvertent offending.

‘‘Hunters are welcome to come into the Fish & Game office in Temuka to have their ammunition checked.’’

Opening-day achievements . . . Showing some of their spoils are (from left) Nick Tarrant, 18, of Pleasant Point and Lockie Tarrant, 12, of Temuka, who spent the day with friends and family near Fairlie. PHOTO: RHYS ADAMS/F&G

Mr Adams said rangers checked on 33 hunters, who were having a great time and for the most part had harvested enough birds for a roast duck dinner or two by noon on Saturday.

Rangers were pleased to see junior hunters in several mai mais, indicating that game-bird hunting opening day remained a family tradition for many, and the future of the pastime was strong.

Paradise shelduck were plentiful in the area and made up most of the harvest, while the mallard duck harvest was relatively modest, perhaps due to the dry conditions.

There was a good spread of hunters throughout the area; however, some ponds that were regularly hunted were dry and thus not hunted, a result of the area’s dry spell.

‘‘In fact, two of the landowners encountered claimed it to be one of the driest seasons they have ever experienced.’’

Every season Fish & Game phones a selection of game licence holders to survey their harvest. Harvest information is compared with previous seasons to assess the effects of bag limit and season-length regulations.

Preliminary harvest survey data suggested highly successful hunters took home 20-35 birds each for the weekend, but most hunters in the South Canterbury area took home three to 11 birds each after the opening weekend’s hunting efforts.

The game-bird season runs until the last Sunday in July.