Game bird hunters will be in the public eye "as never before" when the new hunting season opens - and safety measures have never been more important.
It is crucial that hunters treat the safe transport and handling of their shotguns with the "utmost care and sensitivity" when the new season begins on Saturday May 4, says Fish & Game Chief Executive Martin Taylor.
Many game bird hunters will be catching up with old friends or family members to enjoy what is often a long-standing tradition of harvesting some birds on opening, he says.
"It’s about much more than hunting - there’s the camaraderie and of course the taking home of some tasty wild food.”
This will be the first season under the reformed gun laws which have made most semi-automatic firearms illegal.
"Fish & Game supports these changes to these gun laws and believes that good decisions have been made for both game bird hunters and the community," Martin says.
"There will be no real change for the vast majority of game bird hunters as we successfully made a case to retain semi-auto and pump shotguns for game bird hunting.
"This means game bird hunters can use semi-automatic and pump action shotguns as long as their internal magazines only hold five shots.
"This season, we will again have thousands of licenced game bird hunters in the field for opening weekend.
"Each and every hunter should have made themselves, with Fish & Game’s help, completely familiar with the new gun laws - and what they need to do to comply."
Fish & Game has asked Police to clarify some points of the new law and we are sending those details to all game bird licence holders, Martin says.
He says that as the season gets underway, every single hunter out in the field is urged to focus on safe gun handling by each person in the party, and be fastidious about checking firing zones to make sure it’s safe to fire.
Fish & Game is again joining with Police and Mountain Safety Council and Water Safety New Zealand to advise game bird hunting licenceholders to focus carefully on their actions, and make sure they do everything possible to keep both themselves and others safe.
The game bird season opens nationwide on Saturday May 4, 2019.
The season closes on August 25 for upland game like pheasant and quail, while duck season closes earlier depending on individual regions.
Fish & Game advises all hunters to visit the Police website www.police.govt.nz and click on the yellow link called Firearms Law Reform Information.