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High Country no Wild West

27 August 2008

High Country no Wild West

A special interest group representing hunters is seeking the right to wander-at-will with a loaded firearm over leasehold land says Federated Farmers High Country chairman Donald Aubrey.

Mr Aubrey says Fish & Game has instructed lawyers, Anderson Lloyd to seek a declaration by the High Court challenging the right of pastoral lessees to restrict access to their properties.

"It appears to me that this action is to gain access to privately held land for Fish and Game members," Mr Aubrey said.

Mr Aubrey says farmers with pastoral leases, like any person who rents a home in New Zealand, has the right to exclude others and feel safe and secure in the place they pay rent for.

"House tenants don't expect other people to have 24 hour access to their homes. Why should it be any different for farmers? Even though the scale is different, the ramifications are not.

"High country farming families have strong relationships with fishermen, hunters and other recreational users. This action by Fish and Game is likely to destroy this goodwill.

"Farms are working environments and should be respected as such. It is not practical to farm anywhere if farmers have no control over livestock or their land. Lessees are expected to ensure the management of the land is done in a way that is ecologically sustainable. This is not possible where there is stock disturbance caused by people with or without guns. Large scale pastoralism is reliant on carefully managed grazing as opposed to livestock being hounded into a corner.

"Having firearms discharged at any time of the day or night will only serve to terrorise both livestock and families in remote areas. This would be similar to the Wild West of old," said Mr Aubrey.

Pastoral leases located only in the South Island of New Zealand incorporate very large areas of land. Lessees exercise an exclusive right to the 'pasturage' by grazing all kinds of animals.


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