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Government assessing whether hunting is allowed at Alert Level 3

3 min read

NZ government continuing to assess whether hunting will be allowed to return once NZ is out of lockdown. Photo by Derek Malou on Unsplash

Following an update on the COVID-19 website that said recreational activities such as hunting are not allowed under Alert Level 3, finance minister Grant Robertson clarified that the government is still assessing the situation and the website had “an error” on it.

During Friday’s 1pm press conference, the minister said there isn’t a ban on hunting.

“I believe the website may have had an error on it yesterday, which said hunting was banned. That work is underway right now to consider whether or not it can take place at Level 3.

“I just want to reiterate the principles we are trying to apply here, which are about making sure that we keep people safe as possible that we are involved in low-risk activities, and hunting for some very clear reasons has some high risks attached to it but if it can be done safely is what we are now assessing and that work will be finished as we come in to early next week.”

Earlier on Friday, ACT leader David Seymour said the ban on hunting was “illogical”.

“Hunting is a safe activity. Any risks can be minimised if hunters go with people in their bubble, don’t take learners, take time-limited trips, leave notices of intentions, and take forms of emergency contact with them.

“A 2017 study conducted on behalf of New Zealand Search and Rescue showed that between 2010 and 2017, 29 people died while hunting. The study also recorded 70 swimming and 56 tramping fatalities over the same period. Both swimming and tramping are allowed at Alert Level 3.”

New Zealand’s Deerstalkers’ Association also expressed their disappointment and called for the government to “re-think”.

“The 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.”

Read more: COVID-19: lockdown overview and update

NZ Game Animal Council expressed similar concerns and urged the government to reconsider their decision.

“The Game Animal Council is recommending to government that further consideration is given to allow deerstalking and other large game animal hunting to take place under COVID-19 Alert Level 3.”

The organisation listed a number of conditions under which easy one-day hunts should be allowed:

  • Hunters must stay within their region
  • Experienced hunters may undertake day hunts close to home and in areas they are familiar with. This is not the time to be learning how to hunt or embarking on overnight hunts.
  • People may only hunt with others in their bubble.
  • Firearms safety must be paramount.
  • Hunters must create a safety plan including location, estimated return time and keep a log of who they come into contact with.

“We believe these conditions meet the requirements set out for other forms of recreation currently allowed under Level 3 and allows for compliance with COVID-19 safe practice,” said Game Animal Council general manager Tim Gale.

“As we know hunting has many social and community benefits especially when it comes to mental health and wellbeing as well as being an important food source for many people.”

Council of Licensed Firearm Owners (COLFO) said they did not “agree with the government’s stance”.

“It’s inconsistent and feels like another slap in the face from this government directed at licenced firearms owners. We wanted to work with officials to show how many forms of hunting can be made safe. We could live with ‘hunt but only in your region’ – or ‘hunt, but you make take these precautions so that it is safe’. Instead, Wellington just said ‘stuff off, no hunting’,” said Nicole McKee, spokesperson for COLFO.

New Zealand is currently at Alert Level 4 lockdown. The Cabinet is due to announce whether the lockdown will end as planned or extended on Monday, 19 April 2020.

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