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Covid-19 Level 3 Hunting Ban

The New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association Inc (NZDA) is disappointed that hunting has seemingly been blanket banned following the Government’s release of its Covid-19 Level 3 guidance yesterday.

The NZDA is calling for a re-think and further clarification by Government and strongly recommends that hunting should be permitted at Level 3 subject to the overriding health and safety guidelines imposed on permitted activities and adherence to the “keep it local” and “apply common sense” principles stated by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

NZDA National President, Trevor Chappell says, “There are many elements that make up hunting and that needs careful consideration by Government. The NZDA is open to consultation and can help draft a framework for hunters. NZDA also strongly advises that Government urgently seeks the input of the Game Animal Council, Fish & Game, Mountain Safety Council, Professional Guides Association and others like the NZDA who each can offer a deep understanding on the subject because we all represent different stakeholders in the hunting industry”.

Mr Chappell goes on to say, “from where the NZDA sits we cannot understand why hunting has been deemed inherently “unsafe” by Government. This means the Government must not have taken appropriate expert advice or, if they have, that advice was misguided or not verified”.

“There is still time for the Government to do the right thing and adjust the guidelines for hunters.”

It is at times like this NZDA must stand up for the rights of hunters, even with the backdrop of an unprecedented Covid-19 shutdown, as we have a duty to hold Government to account and ensure the key decision makers are presented with facts and reason and NZDA must insist that Government applies its powers, policies, and laws equitably and fairly.

There is ample evidence that hunters’ hopes to get food for their family or enjoy a safe day-hunt near their home have been unreasonably dashed. ACC’s 2017 records show that hunting does not make the top ten list in ACC statistics for annual sports related injury costs, but fitness training (3rd), mountain biking (7th) and jogging (9th) all make the permitted list under Level 3. Fitness training and jogging are allowed under Level 4, while mountain biking becomes permitted under Level 3. Based on this list and their risk profiles, there is clearly room to allow some form of hunting.

Just last week the Westpac rescue helicopter was called out to the hills behind Brooklyn, Wellington to rescue a crashed mountain biker, yet according to a local resident and NZDA member cyclists are still using the same recreational area and have not been restricted or stopped by Police, despite mountain biking being prohibited under Level 4 guidelines. This indicates that the Government is willing to allow people to indulge in a recreation activity which has a level of risk higher than hunting.

Furthermore, the NZDA notes that Mountain Safety Council statistics show that hunting accidents occur at a rate of one-third of tramping incidents, yet local day tramping, statistically less “safe” than hunting, will be allowed under Level 3. This is further evidence supporting NZDA’s assertion that some form of hunting should be permitted under Level 3 and below. The full MSC report on outdoor recreation incidents is titled There and Back, An exploration of outdoor recreation incidents in New Zealand, published July 2016.

NZDA has a proven track record of supporting and encouraging hunters to follow the Covid-19 guidelines, however NZDA is dismayed at the hypocrisy against hunting under the pretence of "safety" when compared to the permitted activities that are actually less safe than going hunting.

The NZDA’s position is that hunting should be acceptable during Level 3 if done in one’s "region" using the Covid-19 guidance applied to other similar approved recreation activities, and any further hunting specific guidelines proposed by the GAC and Fish & Game, as the Government’s advisors on all matters relating generally to hunting.

Hunting is:

  • a relatively “safe” recreation activity and can be carried out locally in order to meet the Government’s Covid-19 requirements.
  • puts food on the table of families, especially as we will now be in a time of financial hardship.
  • provides tourism jobs in the hunting guide industry.
  • of huge benefit to the physical and mental health of participants.
  • known to be a vital element to help with the country’s game animal control.

It is common sense that hunting should be permitted under Level 3, Level 2, and Level 1, within suitable guidelines for each level. The Government should acknowledge this and adjust the guidelines.

The NZDA welcomes consultation with Government.

© Scoop Media

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