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Game council puts trophies ahead of nature

Game council puts trophies ahead of nature

Forest & Bird is concerned that tomorrow's announcement of the setting up of a new statutory Game Animal Council will benefit elite trophy hunters but harm our treasured native forests and animals.

In June last year the New Zealand Game Animal Council Establishment Committee recommended that a council be created on behalf of hunters to directly manage deer, thar, chamois and pigs on public conservation land.

"But it was clear from the meetings and recommendations of the committee that it wanted a Game Animal Council that would be run for the benefit of trophy hunters and would take away many of the Department of Conservation's powers," Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell said.

Since their introduction New Zealand, deer and the other pest animals have decimated our forests. Currently the Department of Conservation (DOC) manages these animals to minimise the damage they do to our native animals and plants and in the best interests of ordinary hunters.

"Hunters play a valuable role in controlling the numbers of these introduced animals. But it is better for conservationists, hunters and other interested groups to work together through DOC, rather than handing over power to a group representing just the elite trophy hunters, many from overseas," Kevin Hackwell said.

He added that DOC has succeeded in ensuring there are plenty of opportunities for hunters, while giving priority to conservation.

"We believe the main beneficiaries of a Game Animal Council would be seriously wealthy trophy hunters and the companies that cater to them, rather than ordinary New Zealand recreational hunters and the majority of New Zealanders who want to see our conservation estate managed for the benefit of our unique plants and animals.

"The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association President Alec McIver said this morning that the Game Animal Council is likely to charge ordinary hunters for access to hunting in at least 20 percent of the public conservation estate. These will be the very areas with herds that are the most prized by ordinary hunters who presently have free access to them.

"At a time when the government is talking about slashing non-essential spending, it is inconsistent for public money to be spent on setting up an elite body to take over functions from an existing organisation better equipped for the task."

Forest & Bird believes the council is incompatible with New Zealand's conservation laws and international commitments, which put protection of our native plants and animals first.

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