Lack of ducks – Where have all the mallards gone…?
A Wairarapa Times Age article (March 3) regarding the dramatic drop in the number of ducks that can be hunted during the forthcoming season makes depressing reading!
But lack of habitat and the impact of predators are certainly not the main reasons why our main gamebird – the mallard – has almost disappeared from the Wairarapa; because thousands of acres of wetlands have been created and protected over the last 20 years and, thanks to the Greater Wellington Regional Council, vast numbers of bird predators have been eliminated at well over a dozen key sites in the Wairarapa.
For example, at 30-hectares of Taumata Lagoon over 4500 predators have been eliminated – feral cats, ferrets, stoats, weasels, rats and hedgehogs – but from 6000 mallards flocking at the lagoon each February between 1990 and 2007 we now see only 100 - 150 arriving!
This is because in 2006 the use of lead shot was banned in 12 gauge shotguns and it is now known that steel shot – an inexpensive alternative – has increased the crippling factor from 6 percent with lead shot to over 50 percent. Which means that a shooter who has retrieved a Limit Bag has actually shot three limit bags, with 50 percent of the birds shot not being recovered.
The ban on lead shot was introduced because it was believed that ingested lead kills ducks, but this is now known to be simply not true!
The mallard situation is now so serious that the 12 NZ Fish & Game Councils will be lucky to survive the inevitable massive drop in licence sales; with North Island Councils being the first to close up shop!
On top of this it is now known that the aerial bombardment of 1080 is killing trout – and at the same time eliminating a highly lucrative tourist fishing industry and the huge income from the sale of trout fishing licenses by Fish & Game Councils.
Neil Hayes QSM CEnv