Hunters get voice with new Game Animal Council

  • Nick Smith

Hunters of deer, tahr, chamois and wild pigs will now have a say in their recreation with today’s passage by Parliament of the Game Animal Council Act 69 votes to 51.

“The establishment of the Game Animal Council Act is great news for tens of thousands of New Zealanders who hunt. It enables them to join mountaineers, trampers, game bird hunters, and trout and salmon fishers in having a statutory voice into the management of their recreation on public conservation land,” Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

The Game Animal Council Act establishes an independent statutory body to give greater representation to the interests of recreational hunters. Key functions of the council include advising and making recommendations to the Minister on hunting issues, providing information and education to the sector, promoting safety initiatives, conducting game animal research, and undertaking management functions for designated herds of special interest.

“The new Game Animal Council is consistent with National’s Bluegreen approach of having recreationalists more directly involved and in getting sector groups like recreational and commercial hunters around the table to resolve competing interests. One of the first tasks for the council will be developing an industry-led code of practice for controversial aerially-assisted trophy hunting methods such as shooting from the helicopter and herding and hazing,” Dr Smith says.

“There is also a tension to manage between the recreational values of game animals and the harm introduced animals can do to conservation values if numbers are not controlled. The new council has been structured to ensure that DOC retains the capacity to control wild animals where recreationalists are not able to keep numbers down sufficiently to ensure forest sustainability.”

The establishment of the Game Animal Council and regulations around the practice of aerially-assisted trophy hunting are a core part of National’s Confidence and Supply Agreement with United Future.

“This is a red letter day for the recreational hunting sector and shows what a small party, working as a confidence and supply partner, can achieve on behalf of a key outdoor recreation sector group,” United Future Leader Peter Dunne says.

“I hope this legislation and the organisation it creates will uphold and enhance recreation and conservation values for the enjoyment of generations to come,” Mr Dunne says.

The Minister will call for nominations to the Game Animal Council before the end of this year and is expected to approve the code of practice by the end of next year.