16 Feb 2011

Big increase in gun licence requests

9:45 am on 16 February 2011

The number of first-time applicants for gun licences each year has almost doubled since 2006.

Police figures for 2009-2010 show there were about 9500 first-time applicants, up from from 5000 in the 2006-2007 year.

Police Licensing and Vetting Service manager Inspector Joe Green says there is an increased interest in hunting as well as bird and pest control on vineyards or lifestyle blocks.

He says despite the increase in licence applications, the number of accidents involving firearms has remained stable, partly because of the strong promotion of firearm safety.

The Deerstalker's Association agrees recreational hunting is a growing sport and says more women are getting involved.

It says the increased interest is because more people want to get outdoors, as well as hunt for food.

Some hunting-related businesses believe the increase in hunting is because of increased publicity in the sport.