Waterfowl management in North Canterbury, New Zealand
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
The basic goal of this thesis is to contribute to the knowledge of aspects of the waterfowl resource in North Canterbury, New Zealand for the purpose of improving its management. Every year in North Canterbury, seven species of waterfowl are subjected to a recreational and cultural hunt. In order to actively manage their populations to achieve a balance between differing user groups (e.g. hunters, birdwatchers, farmers), two things must be known: 1. The hunter's preferences and impacts. 2. Ecology of the target species. To address the first issue, a questionnaire was sent to area hunters (Section 1). It was designed to be a general questionnaire, covering most issues concerned with gamebird hunting in North Canterbury and providing information on where hunting pressure is most concentrated, in terms of species and areas hunted. Its analysis gives a great deal of insight into the attitudes, idiosyncracies, and motivations of the North Canterbury hunter. In addition to the questionnaire, an analysis of the hunter diary scheme from the New Zealand Wildlife Service was done in order to examine the effect of bag limits and season lengths on the numbers of birds harvested (Section 2). Sound management practices cannot be initiated based on human surveys only; ecological studies of the targeted species are also needed. In a study of this type it would be impossible, and highly foolish, to attempt an ecological study of all concerned target species. Therefore, one species (Black Swan, Cygnus atratus) was pinpointed as the study species. The black swan was chosen because it is the only gamebird in North Canterbury whose status has changed from gamebird to protected species and then returned to gamebird. It is the subject of much controversy in regard to damage of the lake weed beds and to depredation on farmers' grazing lands during times of food shortage. The swan population in North Canterbury has suffered severe population fluctuations and has had no recent productivity studies done on it. An intense productivity study was carried out and the implications of its findings related to the findings from the previous analyses for the purpose of future black swan management (Section 3).