Duck shooting is indiscriminate slaughter, and causes severe suffering to those birds not killed outright.

As many as 275,000 ducks, geese and swans in New Zealand, including non-game and protected birds, could be left crippled to die a slow and lingering death during the annual shooting season on New Zealand waterways. It is expected one million waterfowl will be shot and killed, most of them in one day, on the opening day.

Dead  swan

International evidence shows that between 20% and 40% of ducks and geese that are struck by shotgun pellets are never retrieved, and die lingering deaths.

Mass slaughter is not ‘sport'

Birds feel pain, stress and fear as much as humans and other animals. The suffering caused by recreational duck shooting is unacceptable. Many ducks and other birds are killed for no reason except a gruesome and outdated sense of what is ‘fun'.

Social standards change over time and duck shooting is no longer acceptable entertainment. There are many ways to enjoy New Zealand's natural areas that do not require ending the life of the animals that live in them.

Populations under threat

Flying ducks

Bird populations fluctuate from year to year and there are a number of threats to native ducks. Habitats are under threat with the loss of New Zealand's wetland areas. Over 90% of our wetlands are gone due to human activities threatening the survival of many plants and animals. Ducks are also at risk from introduced predators. Hunting adds yet more pressure to their continued survival.

Duck shooting is not conservation

Normally pest control will be carried out by government agencies and they will do it in a professional manner. In contrast, duck shooting encourages thousands of amateur shooters to herd up animals, frightening them and then shooting them. Because of the cruelty involved in shooting at birds in flight, when many will only be injured and left to die slowly, shooting is one of the least humane ways to control a wild population.

Whenever conservation is raised as a possible reason for shooting ducks, there is a failure to address the role played by humans in causing damage to the environment, damage far more extensive than that done by our own native wildlife.

Research has shown that duck shooting causes unacceptable levels of suffering and SAFE believes it is our responsibility to treat animals humanely. The shotgun shooting of ducks inherently causes suffering. Shotguns fire hundreds of tiny metal pellets that spread out in the air. This leads to high injury rates as animals accompanying a targeted animal can also be hit. If the ducks fly slightly out of range they can still be hit by pellets but without enough force to kill them.

Paradise shot

If population control is needed, humane alternatives exist. These include collection of eggs in areas considered overpopulated, which would reduce numbers over time. Farmers can also make use of the bird's natural fear of predators by using crop protection methods such as decoys.

Brutal lessons

SAFE is very concerned that despite the clear link between animal abuse and domestic violence, children are being actively encouraged to take up this blood sport and being taught that it is acceptable to kill for no other reason than fun.
SAFE regards as irresponsible the example duck shooting sets for children, from the use of firearms through to the treatment of animals. While children have a natural affinity and love for animals of all kinds, duck shooting teaches that violent acts are positive and that mistreatment of animals is acceptable.


Duck hunting is banned in three Australian states due to the extreme suffering it causes, and SAFE will continue its fight until this blood sport is illegal in New Zealand as well.





May 2014 - Wetlands to run red with blood this Saturday



• Encourage your family or friends to not go shooting

• If shooters are shooting in your area, keep an eye out for incidences of illegally activities (shooting birds on the water, shooting protected species, shooting while intoxicated, shooting without a licence, use of lead shot). Report any illegal hunting activities to the police

• Respond to media reports glorifying duck shooting - write a letter to your local paper highlighting the cruelty involved

• Feed local ducks in your area. Many ducks will take refuge in parks and inner city rivers


The slaughter begins


Rescuers at work in Victoria, Australia, in 2011.



What are ‘game birds'?

In New Zealand, 14 bird species are referred to as game birds and can be legally shot and killed for sport at seasonal times of the year.

• Four duck species - mallards, grey ducks (native), Australasian shovelers (native) and paradise shelducks (native)

• Canada geese

• Black swans

• Pukeko (native)

• Ring-necked pheasants

• Grey, red-legged and chukar partridges

• Californian, brown and bob-white quails.





Watch SAFE sending a stern message to duck shooters at the beginning of the 2007 duck shooting season by posting a $5,000 reward for information about cruel or reckless behaviour. SAFE's campaign against recreational duck shooting began in 1990. 



The carnage left at the end of the first day of the 2010 duck shooting season included dozens of massacred protected birds, police complaints, one dead duck shooter and another shooter left with facial injuries.

Duck   Shoot CartoonMedia reports nationwide highlighted the reckless behaviour of many shooters. One shooter was fatally shot by a family member and another accidentally shot in the face by another shooter. Add to this the thousands of waterbirds maimed, crippled and shot over the weekend, and it all amounts to mass carnage. The Christchurch Press highlighted the illegal killing of protected species, including a pair of protected white swans and 20 grey teals. Police received over 15 complaints about shooters using firearms too close to residential areas.

Stupidity on the water
TV One's Close Up programme offered a rare insight into a group of mates coming from all over New Zealand to shoot, drink, and party and manly-bond. They were filmed using firearms whilst drinking alcohol and shot numerous birds, with a number of the birds clearly not killed outright.

"The callous yobbo attitude displayed by these men did plenty of harm to the hunting fraternity's already shaky image and would have confirmed the opinion of most thinking New Zealanders that duck shooting is an undesirable and barbaric pastime," says SAFE campaign director Hans Kriek.

In the media
SAFE appeared on various radio stations highlighting the high wounding rates and the painful and slow death of thousands of New Zealand waterfowl each year.

SAFE has continued to encourage the Department of Conservation (DoC) to research the crippling rates of waterbirds in New Zealand however they continue to refuse, despite US research revealing a shocking 25 per cent crippling rate. In Australia, most states have banned duck shooting on animal welfare grounds.

"We believe that DoC is aware that crippling rates in New Zealand are likely to be high and they prefer not to undertake research to confirm this, as this would only strengthen SAFE's call to end this annual slaughter," says Hans.


SAFE challenges DoC with 'Lame Duck' protest

SAFE's duck rescue team sent a strong message to the Department of Conservation (DoC), calling for duck shooting to be banned. Around 20 SAFE volunteers held placards and banners and chanted ‘Shame. Shame. Shame. Duck shooting is lame!'

Duck  Protest - doc

A ‘lame duck' in a wheelchair illustrated the suffering that awaits hundreds of thousands of birds over the next three months. The protest was filmed by One News and TV3 News and campaign director Hans Kriek was interviewed about SAFE's call for DoC to have independent research carried out into the cruelty of duck shooting.

The protestors received plenty of supportive toots from passing cars and handed out leaflets informing the public of the yearly suffering of New Zealand waterbirds.

"The protest was a great success and I hope that DoC will finally listen and start addressing this important issue," says Hans.

A flurry of media attention followed the protest and TV3 ran an opinion poll on whether duck shooting should be banned. To SAFE's delight, 74 per cent of the public want to see an end to duck shooting.

duck    DoC protest

"We are very happy with the public support we are receiving on the duck-hunting issue," says Hans. Duck shooters make up less than one per cent of our population and it is great to see that they are clearly out of step with the rest of the country who overwhelmingly oppose the annual carnage caused by duck shooters."



SAFE highlights cruelty

Fine weather saved many ducks during the opening weekend of the duck-shooting season which began on 5 May. Ducks fly out of range when the skies are clear and many a shooter left empty handed, much to the delight of SAFE activists who were on Lake Ellesmere to observe and rescue injured animals. Despite the unfavourable shooting conditions a number of shot but not retrieved animals were found.

Duck protest

"We found a black swan, a paradise shelduck, a mallard and even a young tabby cat that had been shot in the early hours of opening day", says SAFE campaign director, Hans Kriek. "We believe these animals were shot but managed to get away from the shooters, only to succumb from their injuries later on".

SAFE offered a $5000 reward for information leading to the conviction of any duck shooter for animal cruelty. Activists attached reward posters to mai mais and on access gates to wetlands. SAFE wants to see an end to duck shooting, a pastime that kills over a million waterfowl each year and may leave up to 400,000 injured to die a slow and painful death. SAFE's opposition to duck shooting was widely reported with stories on TV One news, TV3 news, all major radio stations and a number of newspapers.

Duck shooting has been banned by three states in Australia on cruelty grounds. SAFE is calling on Chris Carter, the Minister of Conservation, to initiate research into crippling (wounding) rates of New Zealand water birds and is confident that once the research proves the high injury rate, duck shooting will be banned here as well.


$5000 reward for cruelty

SAFE is posting a $5000 reward for any information leading to the successful prosecution of any duck shooter who breaks the law this season.


"Duck shooters will be encouraged to whistle blow on fellow shooters who show a flagrant disrespect for animal life", says campaign director Hans Kriek. "For many years, SAFE activists have observed duck shooters maim and injure large numbers of waterfowl and it is time action is taken to stop this carnage".

SAFE is particularly concerned about duck shooters who persistently shoot out of range, thereby increasing crippling rates. Many shooters also fail to retrieve injured animals or kill the animals inappropriately once caught. Incidences of illegally shooting birds on the water and shooting protected species also occur with great regularity.

"American research involving 75,000 shooters shows that wounding loss for ducks is 30 percent and 36 percent for geese. "If these figures are applied to the New Zealand hunting season, 400,000 ducks and geese can look forward to a slow and painful death over the next few months", says Mr Kriek. SAFE hopes that it's $5000 reward will encourage duck shooters to act more responsible or risk being taken to court for cruelty.

SAFE activists nationwide will be posting the reward posters and also placing them on mai mais soon to be used by duck shooters.