Duck Shooting Myths
There are a number of myths that are often repeated about duck shooting. Here we give you the facts on this bloodsport.
Shooting causes immeasurable suffering
During the duck shooting season thousands of amateur shooters practice their shooting skills on living animals, resulting in high rates of wounding and crippling.
Shotguns fire hundreds of tiny metal pellets that spread out in the air. This leads to high injury rates, as the birds flying near the targeted bird can also be hit. If the ducks fly slightly out of range, they can still be hit by pellets but without enough force to kill them.
Based on Australian duck shooting studies, in addition to the ducks who are killed, approximately 12% of birds shot will be wounded and survive, and 14% will be maimed/crippled but the percentage crippled/maimed could be as high as 33%.
Shooters maintain populations of introduced ‘pest’ species
Every year, hunters are careful to conserve population numbers so they have ducks to kill the following season. This includes introduced species, who may compete with native ducks for habitat and food.
When there are fewer birds in a particular year, shooters will be told by their controlling body, Fish & Game, to reduce their ‘bag limit’, to ensure there are plenty of birds left to kill the next year.
Farmers may sometimes consider ducks an annoyance, but all waterfowl are absent from the Department of Conservation list of introduced so-called ‘pest’ species that can pose a threat to New Zealand’s biodiversity. If shooters were conservationists, as they often claim, they would focus on completely eradicating introduced species in favour of our native birds.
Duck shooters kill native birds
Shooters target and kill many native New Zealand species namely Grey, Shoveler and Paradise ducks, as well as Pukeko.
In 2015, Fish & Game officer Matthew McDougall actively encouraged hunters to target a native species and said of Pukeko, "We encourage hunters to make the most of the longer season… for this species".
Grey Teal, Scaup (Black Teal), Blue Duck (Whio), Brown Teal (Pateke) are native species, which are protected from hunting. However, in areas where they share habitat with so-called ‘game’ species, the barrage of shotgun fire can cause them severe stress and could impact their breeding viability.
Unwanted birds often dumped after being shot
Most hunters claim that they shoot the birds to eat, however, many birds killed by duck shooters are never eaten. Media stories have reported on the large number of dead ducks that are often found dumped on roadsides or rubbish tips during the duck shooting season. Thousands of native Pukeko in particular, are shot each year and left to rot, as most hunters do not like to eat them.
Hunters use loopholes to use toxic lead shot
The use of lead shot is banned in 10 or 12-gauge shotguns, however, for other sizes (16, 20 and 28-gauge shotguns) a loophole allows lead shot to be used. Sales of these lighter shotguns are believed to have increased in New Zealand, meaning hunters are continuing to use lead.
Lead shot is toxic. Birds, including native waterfowl, appear to mistake shotgun pellets for grit and pick them up when feeding. Poisoning by lead shot is a slow, painful way to die, leaving birds with an increased susceptibility to disease, infection and muscle weakness. Lead poisoning leads to blindness, heart attacks and muscle paralysis.
Forest and Bird, the National Wetlands Trust and the Department of Conservation work hard to protect the remaining wetlands and establish new ones.
Unlike the private agency Fish & Game, (who promotes the interests of shooters), these groups undertake conservation work purely to protect these habitats and wildlife. The work that Fish & Game may do on wetlands, (for their own interests in maintaining duck numbers for shooting), does not give duck shooters the right to decimate and maim our wild birds.