Short-sighted misleading anti-hunting propaganda does more harm than good

The Educated Hunter
May 1 · 7 min read
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A recent opinion piece published by Newshub NZ, penned by a self-proclaimed protector of animals Christine Rose, entitled “It’s time to end duck shooting for good” was nothing short of anti-hunting propaganda.

I was so blown away by the level of intolerance and naivety that I felt someone needed to point out the truth. Unfortunately, I suspect that the “truth” doesn’t make for interesting reading, but here goes:

Christine Rose says:

“That’s why it seems inexplicable that hunting and shooting is among the priorities agreed suitable for level 3 activities. On average, around 1000 people a year are injured in hunting accidents, sometimes requiring search and rescue operations and hospitalisation of affected people. Allowing people to hunt and shoot — when we’ve collectively surrendered our freedoms to avoid overloading the public health system — seems reckless.”

Reality: There are 1030 injuries to hunters annually based on a 10-year average. This includes everything from infected cuts, twisted ankles, and more serious injuries like broken bones. Compare that to say tramping at 3146 injuries, or trail running at 1304 injuries. For context, both of these activities are allowed under COVID-19 alert level three guidelines.

Interestingly enough, trail running has under half the participation (79,660) of hunting (166,675), and more injuries. That doesn’t take into account the frequency of hunting either, compared to all other activities hunters participate more regularly over a given year (averaging 18 days annually).

Christine Rose goes on to say:

“It’s expected that around 1 million birds will be shot during duck hunting season this year. Some animals will fail to be ‘cleanly killed’, meaning they are wounded but not killed outright, and instead suffer a lingering, painful death.”

Reality:

Introduced species in New Zealand require management, especially if they are detrimental to the ecosystem they exist within. If hunters fail to reduce the numbers each season, the population of mallard ducks will increase unchecked to a level where the Department of Conservation (DoC) will be forced to make decisions about mass culling to control overpopulation and the subsequent habitat damage and impact on our native flora and fauna.

We currently have two viable and internationally proven options:

Option 1: Department of Conservation undertake mass culling operations through such as poisoning; the dumping/laying of noxious poisonous chemicals in our wetlands causing an unpleasant death. Carcasses will inevitably be left to rot and waste in our waterways.

Or using a helicopter to push immature ducklings (flappers), still unable to fly, down onto the water with the rotor wash generated by the helicopter, and shooting them in mass. Carcasses are left to rot in our waterways and all go to waste. A practice currently used, among others, to reduce Canadian geese populations in NZ.

All at a cost to the taxpayer, taking money out of DoC’s budget and away from other pressing community conservation projects around the country.

Option 2: Hunters pay a fee for a license to NZ fish and game. The money gathered from the licenses goes towards native bird rehabilitation and creation of new wetlands, conservation projects, predator trapping, and ensuring hunters follow the rules and regulations set out to achieve a regulated and sustainable annual harvest of adult birds. Hunters as a whole try their best to avoid wounding birds and utilize all the meat as healthy, organic, free-range protein for their friends and families.

Christine Rose says:

“Other birds can be killed accidentally as hunters fail to correctly identify their targets.”

Reality:

Broadly speaking, if you head out to shoot a duck you’re going to shoot ducks, not geese or swans. It’s possible that this happens, but remains a tenuous argument. Miss identification is avoided by waterfowl hunters, there are appropriate fines and consequences in place for those who don’t follow the rules. Harvest numbers and daily limits are based on population numbers gathered by DoC and NZ Fish and Game, and funded largely by the licenses duck hunters buy each season.

Christine Rose says:

“Often children accompany adults in hunts, which encultures them to violent mistreatment and disregard for animals, a practice in New Zealand that has raised concern around the world. Duck shooting and hunting are practices that are bad for birds, the environment, and society.”

Reality:

Sadly, Christine is espousing narrow-minded advice and telling other people how to raise their own children. It makes me so sad, I feel sorry for her if I’m honest; if Christine took the time to get to know anyone in New Zealand’s large hunting community she would actually see that the opposite is true. There’s so much to be learned as a kid from respecting firearms, the techniques involved to locate and identify an animal, and to select as targets only what you mean to eat.

Understanding where meat comes from is an incredibly important part of becoming a well-rounded human. Spending time in the outdoors away from screens and social media with friends and family is incredibly important, especially now.

If you’re not a hunter, that’s totally fine, I respect that and I understand that it’s not in everyone’s nature to be able to take an animal’s life, even if it is humane and sustainable. Most hunters choose to eat meat, and by harvesting our own we choose to make the selection of that animal, processing, and utilization of it our personal responsibility. There is gravity to that reality, hunters understand it best.

Picking up a pack of sausages from the freezer at Pack ’n’ Save may be easier to swallow and the societal norm, but for hunters owning that process from start to finish is a massive part of who we are. We know the meat’s origin. We’ve applied our own personal ethics, and given due respect to a beautiful animal. This isn’t something we can do shopping in the frozen meat aisle.

Christine Rose says:

“Sometimes duck shooting is defended because it allows harvesting of wild animals for food. Fish and Game Council chief representatives say, “game bird hunting is a national tradition”, it’s “harvesting free-range poultry from nature’s supermarket”.

Reality:

Option 1: hunters manage the duck population and collect high quality, free-range, wild happy protein for friends and family.

Option 2: The department of conservation culls the same number of ducks, indiscriminately, using poison or gunships, leaving every single one to rot and waste away in our waterways.

Christine Rose says:

“Unless there is a genuine and substantiated need for food, this argument is unconvincing. Most of us have ready access to food in the supermarket and don’t depend on cruel, wasteful and indiscriminate wild harvest.”

Reality:

If you’re going to eat meat, harvesting it from the wild, ethically and humanely, is arguably the best way to do it. There is nothing cruel, wasteful, or indiscriminate about a wild harvest. There are no pens, no cages, no medications, no slaughterhouses, no antibiotics, no transport. A wild and free life, a humane death, then utilized by active, healthy, happy New Zealanders.

For someone who claims that she is against mass farming and the mistreatment of animals in agriculture to turn around and suggest getting your meat from the supermarket is a better option is nigh on hypocrisy.

Christine Rose says:

“It seems bizarre that as citizens around the world celebrate the conspicuous return of wildlife to human spaces, here in New Zealand, we are eager to hunt and shoot wild animals, and this has the approval of the Government.”

Reality:

You live in New Zealand Christine. I refuse to believe you’re that stupid or that nieve. New Zealand hunters are a key part of managing wild introduced animals like deer, pigs, and goats in New Zealand thereby limiting the impact they have on our native flora and fauna. They also contribute largely to local conservation efforts; helping to look after and enhance native species through predator control, managing game species, and enhancing habitat. Hunting and the lifestyle it represents has a huge cultural significance to a large portion of Kiwis, many rely on it for food, fitness, recreation, mental wellbeing, and maintaining a healthy connection with the wild and the food they eat.

If hunters didn’t do it DoC would have to; through mass culling operations, poisoning, and search and destroy tactics. No empathy given, inhumane, slow and painful deaths through poisoning or being callously gunned down from the air, and then left to rot, all at a cost to the taxpayer.

What’s your alternative, exactly?

Christine Rose says:

“We’ve just spent a month in lockdown to save lives, but now we’re allowed to take animals’ lives largely for sport. Hunting sentient animals is no fair sport for ducks, pukekos, and the range of other animals in the firing line. It’s time to end duck shooting for good.”

Reality:

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I suppose? There may be a lot of love and support for this kind of behavior in your own circles. But unfortunately, your words and your platform have real-life consequences both for the animals of New Zealand and the community of kiwis you hold in such disdain.

I would hazard a guess that Christine Rose doesn’t know a single hunter. It’s clear she doesn’t understand hunting or hunters on any level, and I also suspect the only hunters she interacts with are those who are reacting to the way she treats them. That’s like headbutting every person you meet right on the nose and then labeling everyone you meet unfriendly from the get-go.

It may be a shock to find that hunters actually hate seeing any animal suffering and are huge advocates for conservation. They actually, and perhaps counterintuitively, show almost universal empathy and respect for the meat they harvest.

Christine, I would suggest spending time with the community you seem to have no tolerance for. Get to know us, understand our contrary perspective. Everyone in this world is different, we choose to live our lives the best way we know-how. Surely in this day and age, there is no room for your brand of kind of single-minded disregard?

Matt Gibson

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