Duckshooters cry foul over new rules

GEARING UP: Experienced duckshooter Kevin Fiveash at Shooters World in Gore.
GEARING UP: Experienced duckshooter Kevin Fiveash at Shooters World in Gore.

Southland duckshooters are up in arms after a decision was made at a Southland Fish and Game meeting in Invercargill to tighten duckshooting regulations.

The Southland Fish and Game council has decided to phase out the use of lead shot in 20-gauge shotguns within 200 metres of water and replace it with steel shot during three years, starting next year.

Lead shot has already been banned for bigger shotguns such as the 12-gauge for about 10 years.

About 40 Southland duckshooters attended a meeting at which 60 submissions opposing the changes and a petition with more than 550 signatures were presented.

Lead shot sinks to the bottom of the waterway where birds pick it up and ingest it. Unlike steel shot, it is poisonous to birds. But some shooters say the steel shot is lighter and does not kill ducks humanely at longer distances.

Shooters World owner and recreational duckshooter Lindsay Duncan said the decision was an absolute disaster and the council had gone back on its word.

At the meeting, the council said it would do more research on lead ingestion rates, consider the wounding effect of steel and continue the consultation process, he said.

"We've got people emailing us from across New Zealand who are absolutely horrified, because they come down here and go duckshooting," Mr Duncan said.

Experienced duckshooter Kevin Fiveash said the message sent by the council at last year's meeting was that nothing would be decided until the May hunting season, when they would do more research.

He believed all genuine duck hunters would ignore the new rules.

Southland Fish and Game manager Maurice Rodway said the Southland council had considered all evidence, submissions and research before reaching the decision.

"Councillors have listened to the concerns of those who want to retain the use of lead shot carefully.

"The council would adopt an alternative transition to ban lead shot in sub-gauges if proposed by the New Zealand council," he said.

The change would benefit the environment and health of the ducks, wetlands and waterways, he said.

"Hunters will not have to stop hunting, they will only lose a few metres in range, which only requires a slight change in hunting tactics."

Feedback from licence holders during this year's game season has been encouraged.

The final decision has to be signed off by the minister of conservation and supported by the national council.

The Southland Times