Date: 18 May 2020
With duck hunting season opening this Saturday 23 May, the Department of Conservation is reminding hunters to identify their target and ensure it's not a whio/blue duck or pāteke/brown teal.
Taranaki has a population of around 200 endangered whio living in and around Egmont National Park, and around 20–30 pāteke in and around the Rotokare Sanctuary in South Taranaki.
A small, brown, highly mobile dabbling duck, pāteke frequently forage after dusk, and often visit farm ponds both day and night, says Rotokare Sanctuary Manager Simon Collins.
"Since their return to Taranaki in 2019, pāteke have regularly been seen on farms surrounding Rotokare, and as numbers grow they will become a more regular feature in the wider rural landscape,"he says.
Both whio and pāteke are endemic to New Zealand and their populations sit at less than 3000 ducks, making them rarer than some types of kiwi.
DOC Taranaki Whio Ranger Joe Carson says after a fantastic breeding season the local whio population has spread out of the park, with ducks being seen on streams and waterways in neighbouring farmland.
"Both pāteke and whio could be on a river or settling pond near you. We're just asking hunters to pause and double-check before pulling the trigger."
The blue/grey coloured whio is a river specialist and one of the few waterfowl worldwide living on fast-flowing streams.
The local whio/blue duck population on Mt Taranaki was designated "functionally extinct" by 1945 because of predation by stoats and rats. The whio population has now built up to at least 31 pairs.
Regionally extinct for around 100 years, pāteke returned to Taranaki in May 2019. Released into the Rotokare Sanctuary, the first pateke breeding in Taranaki was recorded in November 2019.
It is important hunters understand DOCs approach to hunting post COVID-19.
Hunting on public conservation land is allowed under Alert Level 2. Hunters will need the appropriate hunting permit or hold the required concession.
Recreational hunters should first check their existing permit as it may still be current.
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