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Targeted duck listed as endangered

Published: 8:27PM Sunday April 19, 2009 Source: ONE News

It's just two weeks until the duck shooting season but one of the birds listed on the Fish and Game Council's hunting guide has just made it onto DOC's endangered species list.

The rapidly declining grey duck is on just-released Department of Conservation listings, but, perhaps oddly, between five and 25 greys can still be shot a day, depending on regional limits.

Hunters gearing up for the season opener say it's tricky even telling them apart from the common mallard duck.

"The difference between a hen mallard and a grey is just about impossible to tell. They are slightly darker, sometimes slightly smaller, but there's very little difference," says Blair Masters, a duck shooter.

The real problem for greys though is their desire to mate with mallards.

So while hundreds of thousands of their descendants exist, pure greys are heading for extinction within 10 years.

"There's no way that you can stop them interbreeding. So basically we are getting one homogenous soup of grey ducks and mallard ducks and as I say that's why we've started calling them grallards 'cause that's what they are," says Bryce Johnson of Fish and Game.

One report for DOC suggested setting up a protected colony on the Chatham Islands.

While DOC will continue monitoring grey duck numbers, it says throwing money at protecting them would be a nonsense because there are strong populations of them in other parts of the world and threatened species unique to New Zealand are their priority.

So it's most likely the greys in our skies will continue to be fair game.