Game bird season will go ahead

The Government has delayed the start of the season until the second weekend after Alert Level 2...
The Government has delayed the start of the season until the second weekend after Alert Level 2 arrives.The season will also end later. Photo: ODT files
As the annual duck-shooting season fast approaches, Otago shooters have been waiting to see if they will get an opportunity to fill their bag this year.

Many believed it would be cancelled because of the Covid-19 lockdown, but the Government has delayed the start of the season until the second weekend after Alert Level 2 arrives.

The season will also end later.

Otago Fish & Game chief executive officer Ian Hadland has welcomed the decision.

"Hunters will welcome the certainty that there will be a game bird hunting season under Alert Level 2 and now they will have enough time to prepare for hunting following a long period of lockdown."

Mr Hadland said hunters in general had been very patient and well-behaved during the lockdown.

"I think that has been acknowledged by the Government and they have now been granted a game bird hunting season, albeit shorter and with a few restrictions to keep us all safe from Covid-19.

"Duck hunting under Alert Level 3, with its associated restrictions on travel and use of boats especially, would have caused a lot of difficulties for duck hunters, so it’s probably the most pragmatic decision.

"Hunters I've been speaking to are grateful and now looking forward to getting out of the house and harvesting a few ducks for the table."

Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson and Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage also announced deer, goat, pig, tahr and chamois hunters would be able to shoot on private land with special restrictions when New Zealand moves to Alert Level 3 next Tuesday morning, but not on public conservation land.

Hunting will be allowed only on private land and with the landowner’s permission.

It must be within your region and bubble, overnight trips are not allowed and hunting must be done on foot, meaning the use of helicopters, quad bikes and other motorised vehicles is not permitted.

Ms Sage said hunting on public conservation land would not be allowed until New Zealand returned to Alert Level 2.

Game Animal Council general manager Tim Gale was disappointed with the decision.

He said the council, the New Zealand Deerstalkers' Association and others in the hunting sector had advocated for hunting to be permitted on both public and private land under a set of conditions they saw as appropriate with Alert Level 3.

"Unfortunately, the Government has decided against allowing hunting on public conservation land and while that is disappointing for many people that do not have access to private land, it is important that we as hunters follow the rules and focus on getting down to Level 2 as soon as possible.

"The reality is that Level 3 is only temporary.

"If we continue to make good progress in limiting the spread of the virus, then moving to Level 2 may only be a few weeks away and, at that point, hunting will be able to take place on public conservation land also."

How will it work?

Fish & Game advises the game bird season will open on the second Saturday following the introduction of Alert Level 2, except if that date falls on May 30.

The game bird season will not open at Queen’s Birthday weekend specifically to avoid Moving Day on June 1 (an important date in the rural calendar when large numbers of farmers move to new farms). 

Based on current government projections, this may mean an opening day mid-May or early June. An example of how this would work is: Level 2 introduced between May 11 and May 15 - Opening Day May 23; Level 2 introduced between May 16 and May 29 - Opening Day June 6. 

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