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Hunters and duck shooters urged to clean their equipment for biosecurity

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Hunters and duck shooters are being urged to clean their equipment between waterways to avoid the spread of unwanted freshwater pests.

The plea from Waikato Regional Council’s biosecurity team comes ahead of the 2020 game bird season opening this Saturday, 23 May - later than normal to take account of the COVID-19 restrictions.

"Unwanted freshwater pests such as didymo, hornwort and alligator weed continue to pose a serious threat to our rivers, streams and lakes," said Waikato Regional Council biosecurity pest plants team leader, Darion Embling.

"Once in a waterway they can disperse rapidly causing significant economic impacts, as well as destroying the environmental, recreational and aesthetic values of our waterways," Mr Embling said.

"We still have a chance to stop the spread of these invasive pests. To date there have been no positive confirmations of didymo in the North Island, and the freshwater weed hornwort which is wide-spread throughout the North Island has recently been eradicated in the South Island.

"Only a couple of years ago Lindavia intermedia, which produces a slime known as lake snow, was found for the first time in the Waikato and there’s no known way of removing it once it’s present."

He warned: "Some freshwater pests are microscopic and can be spread by a single drop of water. Even if you can’t see the pest you could be spreading it.

"We are asking hunters moving between waterways to ‘Check, Clean, Dry' any equipment that has come into contact with river or lake water - particularly boots, decoys, boats and boat trailers," Mr Embling said.

Check items and leave any debris found at the waterway.

Clean all items for at least one minute with a 5 per cent solution of biodegradable dishwashing solution - that’s about one tablespoon of detergent per 250ml. Water absorbent materials such as boots require longer soaking times to allow thorough saturation.

Dry all items - even slightly moist items can harbour microscopic pests for months. To ensure cells are dead by drying, the item must be completely dry to the touch, inside and out, then left dry for at least another 48 hours before use.

Boat safety is also important for people heading out onto the region’s waterways. Waikato Regional Council’s maritime services team leader Richard Barnett said: "With this type of cooler weather we know hunters will typically be wearing gumboots, heavy clothing and carrying ammo, and more often they’ll be getting into small boats to travel to their maimais.

"That makes them really vulnerable if the unexpected happens and they end up in the water, even though the water in some places might not be very deep.

"Our council’s navigation safety bylaw is really clear. If you’re in a boat under 6 metres and it’s underway, every person on board must be wearing a properly fitting lifejacket - no matter what waterway you’re on in the Waikato."

Mr Barnett said it is also important to check your boat is in good condition before heading out.

"This involves making sure lifejackets are in good order and there’s enough for everyone on the boat. Make sure your boat’s in good shape by looking at everything from the outboard to the fuel and filters, the batteries and navigation lights," he said.

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