Hunters face restrictions

03:00, Nov 28 2012

Crowds of shooters and spotlight hunters around Skippers campgrounds during Christmas has resulted in the Mt Aurum area being turned into a restricted hunting area.

The restriction in the Southern Lakes District starts on Saturday, scrapping the open permit system previously in place.

Hunters wanting to shoot the block must obtain a permit through a Department of Conservation booking system limiting the number of rifles in the area to six at a time.

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association Southern Lakes branch has been pushing for the move since branch members, who are all experienced hunters, were appalled at hunter numbers and behaviour in the area last holiday season.

Branch president David Rider told the Mirror hunter numbers had "exploded over the last few silly seasons".

"I was given a report by association members that said large groups of hunters were out there spot-lighting around the Skippers school camping area - and although nobody was injured, that is actually illegal and badly compromises people's safety," he said.

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Other association members were mortified to find groups of foreign trampers wondering through valleys that were being shot by three different groups of hunters last Christmas.

After addressing the Otago Conservation Board in Queenstown Shaun Maloney said on one occasion we had at least three separate groups of goat hunters working one valley.

''It was unknown how many hunters were in each group, but gunfire was happening all around a group of trampers.

"Even though fire-lines were obviously being considered, it's just not a good look to have groups of trampers walking through what sounds like a war zone."

The new Ballarat and East Whakaari hunting areas will become part of the open permit system and any permit held for the Cardrona, Glenorchy and Shotover hunting areas will become valid for these two areas from Saturday.

The Southland Times