23 Apr 2020

Hunting to be allowed on private land under Covid-19 alert level 3

1:46 pm on 23 April 2020

Hunters will be able to hunt on private land with restrictions under Covid-19 alert level 3.

A hunter loads a rifle with ammunition.

Photo: 123RF

They will be able to resume their activities locally as long as they have permission and stick to the rules. However, this does not extend to public conservation land.

Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson acknowledged that hunting was a critical source of food for some but said limitations were crucial to mitigate risks during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"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," Robertson said in a statement.

"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."

Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage said hunting on public conservation land would not be allowed until there was a decision on when the country would move 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," Sage said.

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

She said the duck hunting season would be postponed to start on the second weekend after the date that will be set for alert level 2.

The decision to delay the start was made in consultation with the Fish and Game Council, she said.

"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."

Fish and Game NZ said the game bird season would also run for longer in some regions under alert level 2.

It said, based on government projections, opening day would likely be around mid-May or early June. However, it will avoid opening during the Queen's Birthday weekend, which coincides with Moving Day.

It also reminded hunters to stick to the restrictions, including staying inside their bubbles during their activity and while travelling to their spots, no non-regional hunting, keep your social distancing if hunting outside your bubble, and travel in your own vehicle.

Any game bird hunting that takes place - on private land and in publicly accessible areas - before this is considered illegal.

Fish and Game NZ said it would undertake compliance work throughout the season and prior to it to ensure that the new season dates were being adhered to.

Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage urged those who were new to hunting or tramping and exploring the outback to avoid doing so at this time.

"Use your common sense - stay local, stay safe."

The Department of Conservation has also temporarily disabled the function on its website which allows hunters to apply for permits, but this will be reassessed at alert level 2.

At alert level 3, people must not go into the backcountry/remote areas for their safety and the safety of others. DOC huts are also not available for use.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP

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