Lead ban pushes hunters to Otago

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 27/07/2013

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Southland duckshooters upset with changes to hunting regulations have vented their anger by getting their licences in Otago.

Ahead of the final weekend of duckshooting in Southland and Otago, Southland Fish & Game manager Maurice Rodway said fewer licences had been sold in Southland this season and pointed to the council's move to ban lead shot as a possible cause.

The Southland Fish & 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, he said.

The number of licences sold this season was about 5 per cent lower than last year, Mr Rodway said.

"We previously sold about 5500 licences but this season it looks to be about 5200."

A number of hunters were concerned about the council's proposal to phase out lead shot for 20-gauge shotguns and indicated to the council they would buy their licences in Otago while others may have decided not to buy licences at all, Mr Rodway said.

However, the number of people hunting without licences had not exceeded previous years' figures of about 10 per cent, but the figure was still too high, he said.

The council would continue to engage with unhappy duckshooters about the changes to hunting regulations and hopefully resolve any issues by next season, he said.

Despite many duckshooters being less than impressed with Southland Fish & Game's decision on lead shot, Southland hunters experienced the best opening weekend harvest since 2007 and follow-up surveys indicated the number of ducks harvested remained high during the season, Mr Rodway said.

Gore Shooters World owner and recreational duckshooter Lindsay Duncan said he had noticed a drop in hunting licence sales.

He said the new rules for duckshooters were a very likely cause.

"A lot of people went to Otago to get their licences in lieu of supporting Southland because of their stance on the sub-gauge steel issue," he said.

Otago Fish & Game Council environmental officer Peter Wilson said anecdotal evidence suggested a small number of Southland hunters, mainly around the Gore area, had bought their licences in Otago.

The issue of phasing out lead shot for 20-gauge shotguns had been looked at in Otago but the Otago Fish & Game councillors had decided there are no grounds for change, Mr Wilson said.

"Southland councillors have looked at the issue and come to a different conclusion and are looking at a phase-out of lead shot."

This was consistent with regional management of Fish & Game resources, he said.

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neil.ratley@stl.co.nz

- The Southland Times

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