Coronavirus: Farmers say asking permission for private land hunting essential

A farming group is welcoming the green light for hunting when New Zealand moves to COVID-19 alert level 3, however says asking permission from landowners is essential.

The Government announced on Thursday hunting on local private land with special restrictions will be allowed, although not on public conservation land.

Federated Farmers' rural security and firearms spokesperson Miles Anderson said the clarification was helpful, but it was essential hunters got permission to access private land.

"Farmers, who have been able to continue vital pest control under Level 4, will welcome the return of responsible hunters from Tuesday next week to boost their own efforts to keep numbers of rabbit, deer, wallabies, wild pigs and goats under control.

"But bare in mind there is no obligation on the farm business to let hunters on the land - it must work for the 'bubble' of the farm and within the rules, such as no use of motorised vehicles by recreational hunters while on private land," Anderson said.

Miles Anderson said hunting must work for the 'bubble' of the farm.
Miles Anderson said hunting must work for the 'bubble' of the farm. Photo credit: Supplied

The government has also announced that the game bird season would open on the second Saturday following the introduction of Alert Level 2, except if that date falls on May 30.

The move not to open it on Queen's Birthday weekend was to avoid Moving Day on the 1st of June, an important date in the rural calendar when large numbers of farmers move to new farms.

"We appreciate the thinking on this, and confirmation the gamebird season - an important rural/urban tradition that keeps bird numbers under control - will go ahead when it is consistent with the pandemic precautions."

Key Information:

How far can I travel to go hunting on private land?

You should drive as short a distance as you can. You must stay within your region.

Does private land include Māori land?

Yes - the same rules apply.

Have the deer roar and tahr rut ballots/hunting blocks been affected by COVID-19?

The Department of Conservation (DOC) runs an annual ballot system for hunters wishing to hunt during the deer roar and tahr rut period. The ballot ensures hunters have access to an assigned hunting block.

Hunting blocks assigned to hunters as part of the 2020 deer roar are cancelled.

The tahr rut begins in late April and is a popular time for hunting in the South Island. Tahr ballots allow a select number of hunters authorised aircraft landings in the Hooker-Landsborough and Adams Wilderness areas. As the tahr rut takes place over winter, the 2020 tahr ballots are currently under review.  DoC will contact ballot holders with more information in due course.

At Alert Level 3, people must not head into the backcountry/remote areas, for their safety and the safety of others. DOC huts are also not available for use.

Can I still get a hunting permit?

In order to hunt animals on public conservation land, hunters need a DOC hunting permit. DOC has temporarily disabled the function on its website which allows hunters to apply for permits. This will be reassessed at Alert Level 2.