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Duck Season Safety Off To A Flying Start

There aren’t too many weekends that Southlanders look forward to more than the opening of duck shooting season.

It’s a weekend that can be a rite of passage, a re-connection with whānau and friends, and, of course, a chance to get the guns out (the firearm ones, not the singlet arm ones).

But with firearm use comes significant risk, especially if you haven’t used them for over a year.

That’s why Southland Police worked with their friends at Fish and Game this year to undertake ‘Operation Daffy’, a focus on firearm safety, proper hunting practices, and impairment prevention across the Southland region for opening weekend.

Fish and Game Ranger Cohen Stewart (far left) with Invercargill Constable Dylan Burtenshaw and some happy hunters. (Photo supplied)

Area Response Manager for Western Southland, Senior Sergeant Pete Graham, says Operation Daffy was a great chance to get the word out about firearm safety, but also for teamwork across two organisations.

“For the opening weekend we had three teams, where one rural police officer teamed up with a Fish and Game Ranger to make their way around the maimais to ensure everyone was being safe,” says Pete.

“After all, Police and Fish and Game are singing from the same song sheet when it comes to firearm safety, so it’s a great idea to work together.”

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Other elements of focus for Operation Daffy included unlawful hunting practices like shooting without a licence, use of lead shot within 200 metres of any open water, excess bag limits and hunting on private properties without permission.

Above all else though, it was a great chance for Police and Fish and Game staff to connect with their local Southland communities at a special time of the year.

“Our people loved getting out in the maimais,” says Pete, “and hunters seemed to love having them out there visiting too. One of our officers even got given a decent feed of blue cod!”

Plenty of friendly advice on how to keep safe was passed on to the hunting community over the weekend, and only three firearms were seized across the whole region – two for being left unattended in Eastern Southland and one for using lead shot in Western Southland.

“We’ll continue to stay visible over the rest of the season,” says Pete, “but this was a really positive start, with people by-in-large respecting hunting laws, staying away from alcohol in the maimais and respecting firearm safety.”

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