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Level 3 rules for hunting confirmed

The new hunting rules for Alert Level 3 have been confirmed. File photo/SunLive.

Hunters will be able to hunt on private land with special restrictions when New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3.

Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson and Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage announced have announced the new rules today, but says hunting is still banned on public conservation land.

Hunting has not been allowed since New Zealand moved to Alert Level 4, but a shift to Level 3 next Tuesday morning will mean hunters can once again hunt locally - as long as they have the landholder’s permission and stick to the rules.

“We know that hunting is an important part of life for many New Zealanders, and in some cases a critical source of food. At Level 3 we also need to minimise the risk of losing the great progress we’ve made together in Alert Level 4 in stamping out the virus," says Grant.

"We have to strike a balance, and that’s why these rules are designed to allow hunting in a limited way.

“Cabinet has agreed hunting on private land will be allowed under Alert Level 3, so long as hunters stay within their region and stick to their bubble. Hunting is only permitted on foot and overnight trips are not allowed. The use of quad bikes, off-road bikes, helicopters and other motorised vehicles is prohibited.”

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says hunting on public conservation land is not allowed until the time when there is a decision for New Zealand return to Alert Level 2.

“While many hunters may want to head to popular spots on public land to target the last stag of the roar, under Alert Level 3 hunting on public conservation land will remain off limits,” says Eugenie.

“This helps with consistency across walking and mountain biking where people must stay local, rather than travelling to back country conservation land.

“The start of the duck hunting season is being postponed from Saturday 2 May to start on the second weekend after that date that is decided for when New Zealand moves to Alert Level 2. The season will also end later.

“I know this is disappointing but for many duck hunters the social interaction around hunting is an important part of the activity, especially at opening weekend. The risks associated with groups of people coming together is too high.

“The two-week delay to the start of the season after a decision is made to move into Level 2 was determined in consultation with the New Zealand Fish and Game Council and I want to thank them for their constructive engagement with these decisions.
“All New Zealanders will still have an opportunity to hunt ducks, at the same time, once we return to Alert Level 2.

“We’re still encouraging New Zealanders to spend time in nature where possible if it’s local, but this is not the time to take up hunting as a new hobby or explore the back country and go on an overnight tramp. Use your common sense – stay local, stay safe."

Game bird season opening confirmed

The Government have announced that the game bird season is delayed. However, Fish and Game NZ are pleased to announce it will have a game bird season under Alert Level 2 with the season also running longer in some regions.

The game bird season will open on the second Saturday following the introduction of Alert Level 2, except if that date falls on May 30.

The game bird season will not open at Queen’s Birthday weekend specifically to avoid Moving Day on the 1st of June (an important date in the rural calendar when large numbers of farmers move to new farms).

Based on current Government projections, we are likely to see an opening day mid-May or early June. An example of how this would work is:

Level 2 introduced between May 11 & 15 - Opening Day May 23

Level 2 introduced between May 16 & 29 - Opening Day June 6

Fish & Game New Zealand have been working with the government to ensure the best possible options for the 2020 game bird season. It has been a complex task to ensure the fight against Covid-19 continues, while still providing the best experience for game bird hunters.

"Game bird hunting is a national tradition and an important population management tool. It is great we can confirm a season will take place," Fish & Game New Zealand Chief Executive Martin Taylor says.

This will allow a fair and equitable game bird season for everyone. This new date also allows hunters and retailers some time at Alert Level 2 to get a licence and get themselves set up for the new season start date.

All hunters will have to comply with the restrictions of Alert Level 2 while hunting and travelling to their hunting spots. This includes hunting with your bubble if possible; keeping it local, no non-regional hunting; keep your social distancing if hunting outside your bubble; no overnight trips; travel in your own vehicles; and limit your exposure to people outside your bubble.

All hunters will start hunting on the same day and it will be illegal for any game bird hunting to take place before this as it is a legal change to the season dates. This applies to people hunting on private land, their own land and in publicly accessible areas.

Fish & Game New Zealand will be undertaking compliance work throughout the game bird season and prior to the season to make sure that the new season dates are being adhered to.

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