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Agencies have their ducks in a row

Fish and Game New Zealand and Wairarapa Police recently undertook an operation to ensure duck hunters are following the rules, especially regarding firearms safety.

Since duck hunting season started on May 5, the two agencies have ventured as far south as Lake Wairarapa and as far east as Riversdale, with rangers and officers catching up with an estimated 150 hunters.

“We normally undertake a compliance operation for the opening of the season, which looks at two compliance functions: wildlife regulations and firearms safety,” Fish and Game Wellington regional manager Phil Teal said.

“We took this opportunity alongside police to interact with them in a positive context.”

For the most part, the hunters encountered by the agencies were following the rules, Teal said, although there were occasional beaches of firearms rules observed.

The specific rule that police needed to provide information about, noted Wairarapa Police area prevention manager Gill Flower, was the supervised use of a firearm while not licenced.

“We did have a couple of incidents where people weren’t quite sure of the rules or weren’t following them properly,” Flower said.

“You don’t need a licence to operate a firearm in this situation if you have a licenced person supervising you.”

Anyone supervising a non-licenced person who is using a firearm is required to be physically present and actively supervise the shooter, be close enough to take control of the firearm if necessary, and not use another firearm while supervising.

Those breaches that were identified were minor, Flower said.

“Last year, we had more incidents of people making breaches, so we wanted to conduct this operation and be more present, but overall, people were abiding by the rules.

“This was also a good opportunity to see if police education programmes around firearms safety are working.”

Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie is a journalist at the Wairarapa Times-Age; originally moving from Christchurch, he is interested in housing stories as well as covering emergencies and crime.

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