With the duck hunting season off to a strong start, Fish & Game NZ chief executive Corina Jordan says it’s a great time for farmers to look into the funding that is available to support wetlands on their properties.
“Game bird hunting licence holders are hugely grateful to farmers welcoming them onto their land. We know some have had dozens of people camping on their properties. It’s a big annual event and continuation of a long tradition.
“We are hearing from our licence holders about great examples of work farmers are doing to create or protect wetlands, providing habitat for ducks and other waterfowl.
“With duck hunting front of mind, it’s a good time to remind farmers they can apply for funding through the Game Bird Habitat Stamp programme.”
The programme, run by the Game Bird Habitat Trust, raises funds for the protection and enhancement of game bird or other wildlife habitat.
From every game bird hunting licence sold, $5 goes to the Habitat Trust. Any person or organisation can apply for funding for relevant wetland projects. Applications for 2023 close on June 30.
“We have spent $22 million restoring wetlands, mainly on private rural land, in partnership between hunters and landowners,” Jordan said.
“There is a lot of opportunity for farmers. Wetlands add amazing value to their properties. They can provide a source of stock drinking water in dry weather and are a key mitigation tool in a farmer’s toolbox to support the efforts of catchment communities.
“Protecting and restoring wetlands is a key focus for Fish & Game. Only 3% of New Zealand’s original wetlands remain, so any work makes a difference in supporting our indigenous flora and fauna as well as our game bird species. That in turn creates recreational opportunities for rural communities and for hunting.”
The wet spring and summer provided a good environment for wildfowl breeding, so there are a lot of ducks around, Jordan said.
“Many areas currently have ponded water in paddocks so there may be opportunities for hunting in areas where you don’t normally find waterfowl, allowing people to try out different hunting methods.”
The duck hunting season has always been a great opportunity for people from rural and urban communities to come together.
“We are seeing a shift to people seeing the season as an opportunity to get away from the pressures of life and enjoy time with friends and family in a natural environment.
“People still want to bag a few ducks, but there is a strong feeling of wanting to bring on the next generation of hunters and conservationists. We’re getting sent lots of pictures of dogs too, with hunters enjoying being out with that ‘trusted mate’.
Jordan said licence holders place huge value on the opportunity to connect with rural communities.
“Of course, many of our licence holders are farmers too. Farmers welcoming hunters onto their land enables people from rural and urban communities alike to connect over their shared passions for the outdoors, for conservation and for hunting, fishing and wild food.”
For details on how to apply for the funding, please visit: www.fishandgame.org.nz