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Last Year For Lead Shot For Hunting Waterfowl

Last Transitional Year For The Use Of Lead Shot For Hunting Waterfowl

The 2004 game bird hunting season is the last transitional season in the five year programme to phase out the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting adjacent to wetlands says Fish & Game New Zealand.

The 2004 season starts this Saturday at 6.30 am.

This year it will be illegal to be in the possession of lead shot while hunting waterfowl, including pukeko, within 200 metres of any lakes, ponds, streams or water areas wider than three metres on or adjacent to land administered by either Fish & Game New Zealand or the Department of Conservation.

It will be the last year where it will be legal to use lead shot on private land. For the 2005 hunting season it will be illegal to be in possession of lead shot when hunting waterfowl within 200 metres of water on private land.

Most hunters will know when they are hunting on Fish & Game New Zealand or Department of Conservation managed land (as they need permits for most areas). However, to be certain, hunters should use non-toxic alternatives when hunting any areas adjacent to rivers as it is likely that the Department of Conservation administers the land.

“Last year when new compulsory non toxic areas were brought in our rangers found a very high level of compliance from game bird hunters who have been very responsible. We had to undertake very few prosecutions against people using lead shot,” says Graham Ford, Fish & Game spokesperson.

“This year again our rangers will be out in force and Fish & Game will not hesitate to prosecute people illegally using lead shot.”

For at least the 2004 season the ban will only apply to 12 gauge shotguns. The exemption for smaller gauge guns will be kept under review and the ban will be extended to smaller gauge guns once non toxic alternatives are readily available for at least 20 gauge guns.

Because the objective of the ban is to minimize the ingestion of lead by feeding waterfowl, lead shot will still be able to be used for upland game hunting, hunting of waterfowl away from water and other shooting using shotguns.

“Scientific research shows that lead shot does not cause environmental damage but it does cause a problem for waterfowl who swallow pellets while feeding in wetlands,” says Mr Ford. “This causes a significant level of mortality among waterfowl and so it is in hunters’ interests to switch to non toxic alternatives.”

For those people who wish to continue hunting using muzzle loading and Damascus type twist steel barreled guns, regional Fish and Game Councils will consider applications for an exemption to allow the continued use of lead shot for those guns on a case by case and gun specific basis.

If any hunters are unsure about the suitability of their shotgun for steel or other non-toxic shot, or would like further information, such as how to open their shotgun’s chokes to get the best performance, they should seek advice from their local gun shop.

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