Every time I see or hear a pro-duck shooting advertisement in mainstream media it never fails to shock me a little. Surely your average, caring Kiwi is not OK with the idea of blasting wildlife out of the sky for fun?
Anyone would think that New Zealanders as a whole find duck shooting acceptable. Turn on the 6 o’clock news the night before the opening of the duck shooting season and you will no doubt see a light-hearted story portraying a ‘fun Kiwi pastime’. Add in a few duck puns and you’ve got a quacking good story.
Take the full-page pro-duck shooting advert in the NZ Herald recently, captioned “Nature’s Supermarket is open for business”. I was shocked and saddened to see the smiling, innocent face of a child who was holding multiple dead ducks and carrying a firearm on his back.
Surely we want to teach kids to respect wildlife?
Do we really want to supply children with guns and glorify the killing of innocent animals?
Surely ‘celebrating the duck’, as the advert suggested we do, should be about celebrating them as the free, living beings they deserve to be?
What kind of message are we teaching children when we say that it’s OK to maim and kill some animals for fun?
I truly hope that when the boy in the advert is old enough to think for himself he will regret the pain and suffering he caused those innocent, peaceful birds and re-embrace the empathy he was originally born with.
The duck shooters, of course, have a million ways of justifying their much loved hobby, some claiming that they do it in the name of conservation (do they really believe this?) and others in order to feed their family. When you add up the cost of a shooting licence, firearms and all the fancy gear that goes with the hobby, it adds up to being a very expensive way to feed the family!
Another false claim is that it’s a quick, clean kill. Not even James Bond could shoot a moving target perfectly 100% of the time. The sad fact is, estimates from similar situations overseas say that around 25% of birds are not killed outright and are left to die slow and painful deaths. A computer model of the action of a shotgun and the flying bird concluded that most competent shooters will average one bird wounded for each bird bagged.
Not to mention the accidental deaths of the hunters themselves that happen every year in New Zealand.
Not all the bird species killed are considered fit for eating. (Pukeko pie, anyone?) Every year we see stories about large numbers of dead ducks, swans and geese being dumped on the roadside after hunters realised that they had shot more than they could fit in their freezer.
Sadly the danger doesn’t even end when the shooting season finishes.
Some birds, including protected native water birds, can be slowly poisoned to death after ingesting lead shot left behind. The Government banned the use of some lead shot in 2005 but foolishly allowed it to be used in lighter shotguns. SAFE is calling for the Government to protect our birds and ban ALL use of lead shot. It is the very LEAST they can do. You can help by urging the Government to ban ALL lead shot.
When you look at the duck-shooting facts, there really isn’t much to celebrate.
Yes, nature’s supermarket IS plentiful. But how about leaving the wildlife alone and picking apples instead?
National Volunteer Coordinator