Independent review needed of duck shooting

The 2018 duck shooting season started the first weekend of May. The result is that many of our normally tranquil wetlands are awash with the sounds of gunfire, accompanying the slaughter and potential crippling of huge numbers of birds.

There are many reasons that these hunters cause high rates of wounding and crippling:

  • 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.
  • Many birds are not always retrieved because only some duck shooters use dogs to fetch downed animals, and some injured birds fly some distance away.
  • A significant proportion of duck hunters have a low level of skill, so have difficulty hitting their target in such a way as to kill the bird.

International studies, in comparable circumstances to New Zealand, have shown that there are very high numbers of birds are wounded and maimed by duck shooters, rather than being killed outright. Many die lingering deaths. 

There are no figures from New Zealand on the percentage of birds crippled, but there is no reason to think that there is a difference in ability between those who are targeting water birds here compared with those overseas. If even 20 per cent (at the lower end of overseas figures) of the approximately one million birds shot in New Zealand each year are left injured, this equates to 200,000 birds suffering in this way.

Duck shooting has already been banned in Western Australia (1990), New South Wales (1995) and Queensland (2005). It was never allowed in the ACT. It is time that New Zealand follows this compassionate trend.

SAFE has called on previous governments to commission an independent review of injury rates. These calls have been ignored by ministers and vigorously resisted by shooting advocates, including Fish & Game. 

We are calling for the Minister of Conservation, Hon Eugenie Sage, to commission an urgent independent review into the number of birds that are wounded and crippled by duck shooters.


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21 May 2018