Duck shooters down guns for advocacy
Hours of lobbying behind the scenes has resulted in victory for a duck shooting lobby group formed by two Gore men.
‘‘Commonsense has prevailed,’’ Sub Gauge Action Group founding member Kevin Fiveash said this week.
Fish and Game councils across New Zealand have voted 8-4 against a Southland Fish and Game-led proposal to ban duck shooters from using lead shot in sub-gauge shotguns.
Between 5 and 10 per cent of duck shooters use sub-gauge shot guns which have smaller barrels than the more commonly used 12-gauge shotguns.
Lead shot has been banned in 12-gauge shotguns for about 15 years but duck hunters have continued to be allowed to use lead shot in the less powerful sub-gauge shotguns.
Fish and Game Southland manager Maurice Rodway said they wanted lead shot banned from sub-gauge shotguns so duck hunters instead used ‘‘non toxic’’ steel shot. Ducks swallowed lead shot pellets from the bottom of ponds when feeding and most died from lead poisoning as a result, Rodway said.
However, the Fish and Game Southland proposal to ban lead shot was met with strong opposition from many duck hunters, with Eastern Southland hunters leading the charge.
They argued Fish and Game Southland had not proved that lead shot poisoned ducks.
They also said its replacement, steel shot, was ineffective, with hunters who missed their mark merely wounding many ducks, which flew away and bleed to death in paddocks, giving the hawks a feed instead of the hunters.
Eastern Southland duckshooters Kevin Fiveash and Lindsay Duncan, upset at the proposal to ban lead shot in sub gauge shotguns, initially called a public meeting in 2012 and more than 100 people turned up.
The Sub Gauge Action Group was formed and members from Southland and beyond lobbied hard against the Southland Fish and Game proposal.
Southland Fish and Game agreed not to proceed with the lead shot ban at a regional level, instead asking the New Zealand Fish and Game council if it could make a decision nationally.
New Zealand Fish and Game consulted with its 12 regions and this month the regions voted 8-4 to retain the status quo, meaning duck hunters can continue using lead shot in subgauge shotguns until 2017, when Fish and Game will take another look at it.
Fiveash, a duck shooter for 50 years, said the result was commonsense.
‘‘The people stood up and said, ‘this isn’t right’,’’ he said.
He believed conservation Minister Nick Smith had also pressured Fish and Game to back off its stance.
Rodway said democracy had taken place.
‘‘We will have to accept that decision for the next three years until we get more information.’’
Most western countries did not allow lead shot in any type of shotguns, he said.
Rodway said research did not back up claims by hunters that more ducks died from being wounded with steel shot than died from being poisoned by lead shot.
Outvoted: Fish and Game Southland
manager Maurice Rodway
accepts that democracy has
No steel: Sub Gauge Action Group founding member Kevin Fiveash, of Gore, says common sense has prevailed.