Duck Shooting Myths

There are many myths about duck shooting and why it goes on. Find out the REAL facts.


"Ducks are pests"

Farmers may sometimes consider ducks an annoyance, but they are not listed as pests by the Department of Conservation. The DOC do not list any waterfowl as ‘pest’ species that can pose a threat to New Zealand’s biodiversity.

Duck shooting encourages thousands of amateur shooters to practice their shooting skills on living animals resulting in high wounding and crippling rates.

"Numbers need to be controlled"

Every year hunters are careful to conserve numbers so they have ducks to kill the following season. Often shooters are told to reduce their ‘bag limits’ to ensure there are plenty of birds left to kill the next year.

If it was about conservation and ‘pest’ control they would be pleased to see the non-native birds eradicated altogether, not taking steps to stop that happening. 

What is it really about? Sadly: fun. The opening weekend of the duck hunting season sees thousands of people go out on our waterways with their friends, to blast wildlife out of the skies.

"Only non-native birds are targeted"

Shooters go after and kill many native New Zealand species: grey ducks, shoveler ducks, paradise ducks and pukekos.

In 2015 Fish & Game Officer Matthew McDougall said of Pukekos "We encourage hunters to make the most of the longer season… for this species.”

"It’s a clean, humane death"

Conservative estimates from overseas say that along with ducks being killed, there is an estimated wounding rate of 25% (figures reached by combining the reports of hunters and trained observers). This means that, in New Zealand, up to 250,000 ducks may be left to die a lingering, painful death.

"Duck shooters eat all the birds they shoot"

Many animals shot by duck shooters are not eaten. Every year, the media reports on large numbers of dead ducks dumped on roadsides or rubbish tips. Thousands of Pukeko are shot each year, most hunters do not like to eat Pukeko and many birds are left to rot on our waterways.

"Lead shot is banned"

The use of lead shot is banned, but only in 10 or 12-gauge shotguns so for others (for example 16, 20 and 28-gauge shotguns) a loophole allows lead shot to be used. Sales of these other shotguns are believed to have gone up in New Zealand so that hunters can continue to use lead. Lead shot slowly poisons any birds that eat it, including native waterfowl who mistake the pellets for grit.

Poisoning by lead shot can be a slow, painful way to die, leaving birds with an increased susceptibility to disease and infection and muscle weakness, leading to blindness, heart attacks or muscle paralysis.

"Fish and Game care about the wetlands"

Fish and Game, a private agency, have done some good work to protect New Zealand’s reduced wetland areas. But their reasons are less altruistic: they do so to directly enable shooters to have areas on which to kill birds.

SAFE believes their work on wetlands does not give them the right to decimate and maim native and non-native wildfowl.

Forest and Bird, the National Wetlands Trust and the Department of Conservation have also been working hard to protect the remaining wetlands and establish new ones.