SAFE's ANTI-DUCK SHOOTING CAMPAIGN
THE BLOODY KILLING
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.
Media 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!'
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.
"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.
"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.