4 May 2019

Changes to gun laws will have little impact on duck shooting season: Fish and Game

3:10 pm on 4 May 2019

Fish and Game says recent changes to the country's gun laws will have a minimal impact on the duck hunting season, which starts today.

26741686 - flock of ducks

This year's duck hunting season gets under way this weekend. Photo: 123RF

Last month MPs voted near unanimously in favour of the Arms Prohibited Firearms, Magazines and Parts Amendment Bill which makes most semi-automatic rifles and guns with large magazine capacity illegal.

The new law prohibits hunters using semi-automatic shotguns without a non-detachable tubular magazine that can hold no more than five cartridges.

The more common double-barrel shot gun and certain magazine extensions that hold no more than five cartridges can still be used.

Rangers will be out with the police checking firearm licenses across the country from dawn today.

Fish and Game's Richard Cosgrove said the checks were standard practice, but considering the recent law change hunters needed to be prepared.

"Make sure you [have] hunting license and your firearms licence on you, so it's easy access. Check it's not back at your car, you know, 400m away, and you have to walk all of the way back to it because it is an offence under the Wildlife Act not to have the licence on you."

The law changes had a minimal effect on most hunters, Mr Cosgrove said.

"We have to fit in with the law. I mean, considering the tragic events that happened, we're quite lucky still to have shotguns."

The first day of the season is the riskiest time of year for duck hunters, Mr Cosgrove said.

"I stress, follow the seven rules of firearm safety ... no bird is worth not coming home with your mates. So just calm down and have a good day."

SAFE calls for an end to duck shooting

Animal welfare lobby group SAFE is calling for duck shooting to be banned.

The group said duck shooting caused hundreds of thousands of birds to die slow, painful deaths.

SAFE chief executive Debra Ashton said Australia has moved to ban duck shooting in three states because of the cruelty involved and New Zealand needed to follow suit.

"We're really concerned at the high rates of wounding and crippling of birds that die slow and painful deaths and we think if you allowed this to happen to another animal, say a cat or a dog, you'd actually be charged with animal cruelty."

She said SAFE has been asking the government and Fish and Game to commission an independent study into wounding rates.

As a country of animal lovers, duck shooting was completely unacceptable, Ms Ashton said.

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