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Animal Law, Animal Welfare Act 1999

NZ Game Hunting Council to be Formed

top_bannerA new Game Hunting Council is to be formed to regulate the hunting of New Zealand’s many introduced animals;  particularly deer, tahr, chamois and wild pigs. Most of these animals were introduced specifically to be hunted; it is telling that until 1990, the district bodies regulating hunting were known as ‘Acclimatisation Societies’. Some background on the Council:

In 2007 a Ministerial panel looked into future options for managing game animals and recommended the formation of a Big Game Hunting Council. The new Council is being established to represent the interests of hunters and game animal managers, and to manage and regulate the game animal resource, while having regard to the environmental effects of deer, tahr, chamois and wild pigs. It will carry out a range of functions relating to the hunting, farming and management of those animals. “In carrying out its functions, the proposed Council will recognise both the value these animals have to recreational hunters, commercial hunters, farmers and the public in general and that their numbers need to be controlled for conservation reasons,” said Garry Ottmann, chairperson of the Establishment Committee.

Hunting is exempted from the cruelty standards of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 by s175.

There has long been a concern that there is no enforceable – or even explicit – code of ethics by which hunters must abide.  The closest thing in New Zealand to such a code is the Fish and Game Council’s ‘Game Bird Hunting Code of Practice‘. However, this is not enforceable. It serves as an ‘aspirational’ document outlining the attributes and behaviour of an ‘ideal hunter’. Furthermore, responsibility for formulation of policy and enforcement falls to the Department of Conservation (DoC). DoC has a focus on the protection of overall ecosystem rather than the interests of individual animals and differentiates between animals by placing a very high value on the absolutely protected native animals while generally regarding introduced animals as pests which can be dispatched of in any manner, however brutal.

The priorities of the undertaking are clear from this quote in the discussion paper (available online here):

The primary aim is to encourage participation in hunting and farming of these animals, with a secondary aim of assisting with their control, by co-ordinating and establishing agreed national standards for hunting activities to reduce conflict while increasing recreational, meat and trophy value within the constraints and goals of the landowner or managers. (at p 7)

And even more so here:

The Game Animal Council will be operating specifically in the interests of hunters and game animal managers … It will undertake the management of hunting, hunters, and game animals to provide quality hunting experiences. A large part of the Council’s work is aimed at providing a higher level of services for recreational hunters by providing game management, advocacy, coordination and conflict resolution.
It will also seek to increase participation, success rates and satisfaction with the hunting experience. (at p 14)

In short, hunting is to be encouraged by the very same body that is meant to be regulating it. The hunters and farmers will be better represented and animals will continue to be exterminated for meat, trophy value, and, at best, to preserve ecosystems as a whole. But individual animals continue to escape our moral consideration, if not our guns, traps, and packs of dogs.

Submissions close on November 23. They can be sent to:mail@gameanimalcouncil.org.nz or P O Box 12-099, Beckenham, CHRISTCHURCH 8242.

About Vernon Tava

Barrister. Lives in Auckland, New Zealand.



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