Duck hunting season kicks off this Saturday, and Fish and Game rangers are taking extra precautions with them this season to prevent the spread of cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.
Fish & Game rangers in the lower South Island will be carrying disinfection kits this duck hunting season to eliminate the risk of transferring Mycoplasma Bovis when moving from farm to farm.
Rangers have a statutory right to be on properties to conduct compliance checks with hunters over duck hunting season. Fish & Game says it is now confident those visits will not become a vector for the spread of Mycoplasma Bovis.
Otago Fish & Game Operations Manager Ian Hadland said rangers would plan to disinfect their footwear before every farm visit. It was part of a risk management strategy they drew up after having consulted with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
"Because MPI won't disclose which farms are infected, we will simply treat them all as infected and disinfect between all ranging operations on private farmland just to be sure," Mr Hadland said
Mr Hadland said it was important the risk was managed even if the risk of rangers spreading the disease from farm to farm was low, especially without direct contact with stock.
Mr Hadland said the protocols were developed because the disease was causing anxiety in the rural community and he wanted landowners to be more at ease about Fish & Game's compliance visits over the hunting season.
More than 30 farms in the lower South Island are now confirmed as being infected with the cattle disease. Last month MPI began a cull of almost 13,000 cattle in the Southland region alone.