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Hunter Stunned to Bag Record-Setting Oldest Duck

Monday, 28 May 2012, 1:13 pm Press Release: Eastern Fish and Game Hunter Stunned to Bag Record-Setting OldestDuckTauranga hunter Brian Rogers says he’ssomewhat stunned to have bagged a duck that may set a recordas the oldest banded game bird recovered in Fish & Game’sEastern Region, since records began 15 years ago.MrRogers shot the bird while kayaking on the Kaituna Riverwith a friend recently. It was a beautiful day and they’ddrifted down near the Bell Road Landing where a new bridgeis being constructed.“We saw a few birds around andcalled three over,” he says. “It wasn’t flyingparticularly well, it didn’t look right.”Brian Rogersthought at first it was a duck out of condition, athin-looking juvenile rather than a tough oldbird.Recovering the bird from the sandbar it fell ontoproved to be a real mission. When the hunter stepped out ofhis kayak onto the bar it felt like quicksand. “I wasforced to crawl on my belly through the shallows to reach it– but I never leave a bird I’ve shot.”  “I saidto my mate Tony that so far I’d only shot young and stupidbirds, and now I can add geriatric to that. I am stunned tohear it was that old.”As Fish & Game requests, Briansent details of the band recovered to the organisation’sEastern Region headquarters at Ngongotaha. Senior Fish &Game Officer Matt Mc Dougall runs a game bird monitoringprogramme which is the country’s longest-runningcontinuous one, now 15 years old He looked up his records todiscover the bird, banded nearly 11 years ago, was theoldest they’ve recovered so far – beating two other tenyear-old ducks.Mr Mc Dougall, one of the country’sleading game bird researchers, was quickly on the phone toBrian to confirm the finding.The male bird had beenbanded as a juvenile on February 11th, 2002 at KaitunaWildlife Reserve. The skinny mallard had been shot just 1.5kilometres away from where it had been banded. “It’s anarea that gets a lot of hunting pressure and to go throughso many hunting seasons, it must have been a pretty wily oldbird.“I think it’s fair to say however that thisharvest could be considered a humane act, as from thedescription of the bird’s flying, it was nearing the endof its life.”  The banding programme has shown that86% are recovered within 50 kilometres of where they arebanded, although he adds this bird may in fact havetravelled some distance away and then returned to the site.One adult mallard banded at Lake Rununga in the Hawkes Baywas recovered down south,1014 kms away  just out ofInvercargill. Matt Mc Dougall says that over the 15years it has been running throughout the Eastern and HawkesBay Fish & Game regions, 23,673 mallard have been banded,along with 2,693 grey duck and 1844 Paradise shelduck.Hesays it’s great for Fish & Game to receive this bandinginformation from hunters, which all helps them to assess“what the different game bird populations are doing,”and then determine regulations including bag limits andseason length.“Banding helps us determine productivity,population size, movement and of course – as seen here –survival rates. When a band is returned to us we know howlong it’s survived for, and with all the bands returned,we can estimate how long the average bird survivesfor.“It’s interesting to see that birds do live to aripe old age as the average life span is just over oneyear. Mr Mc Dougall says they’re very pleased to seehunters like Brian getting the most from their game birdlicences, hunting past the opening of the season, and doingthe right things – including passing on this vitalinformation.   ENDS © Scoop Media

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