A new online petition is calling for a ban on duck shooting.
The petition, on Change.org, calls for the "immediate protection" of three species of native duck: the grey duck (parera), the shoveler (kuruwhengi) and the paradise shelduck (putangitangi). It also calls for protection of the pukeko.
"All New Zealanders should know that three native duck species, in decline or endangered, are allowed to be shot under the outdated Wildlife Act 1953," the petition says.
"We are calling for compassion and kindness to be extended to Aotearoa’s beautiful waterfowl. In the midst of a global pandemic, can we not develop a new empathy for those we define as our prey, when we ourselves are experiencing the horrors of becoming prey to a biological enemy out to destroy us?"
The petition, started earlier this week, has so far received almost 3000 signatures.
But Fish & Game New Zealand defended the sport, saying all game birds hunted in the country "have populations that can be sustainably harvested".
"Fish & Game scientists undertake rigorous population monitoring each year to set bag limits for sustainable harvest. This annual population trend-monitoring indicates populations that are either stable or increasing," a spokesperson said.
"Duck populations in New Zealand are not in decline as these petitioners state."
The online petition echoes calls by animal rights organisation SAFE, which last week also called for an end to the practice.
The game bird hunting season began on March 23. It was originally supposed to kick off on May 2 but was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
More than 40,000 New Zealanders take part in the sport each year.