An update from the national NZDA office:
A lot has happened since our last Covid-19 update email and we wanted to summarise key events and information for you.
The main point to note is that hunting generally will be permitted under Level 2, on and from Thursday, 14th May, and so the restriction on public land hunting falls away. In further good news hunting ballots directly affected by COVID-19 Levels 3 and 4 will be offered to those ballots holders for the same period next year – keep an eye out for DOC’s contact email. NZDA needs to thank DOC for implementing our suggestion and allowing the ballot winners to enjoy their ballot, because for some it is like winning the lottery.
In relation to the firearms ‘buy-back’ the Auditor General’s report came back and confirmed our suspicions. COLFO’s statement is attached and you can read the full report which is linked in the attachment as well as a letter setting out COLFO’s concerns.
GAC’s chair, Don Hammond, spoke to the Government’s Covid-19 Select Committee last week. He represented hunters well and a link to GAC’s submission is provided below as well as a radio interview he did recently.
DOC Hunting Permits
Under Level 2 you can use your Hunting Permits and apply for new Hunting Permits. This means that shortly you can apply for permits from DOC as usual. Once DOC activates their online system, you can access it here (https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/things-to-do/hunting/permits-and-licences/hunting-permit/). Remember you must hold a current Hunting Permit because it allows you to carry your firearm on public Conservation land.
Although hunting is permitted on DOC managed Public land as an activity, it appears that DOC’s hut booking system will be reopened but that staying in DOC huts will be limited to 10 people under Level 2. Keep an eye of for this status to change as we go down Covid-19 levels and restrictions.
Mountain Safety Council’s activity guide
MSC have put together a helpful online tool that provides activity specific Covid-19 guidelines. It covers not only hunting but all outdoor recreation activities. A link to this tool is provided below.
Branch Club nights and events
Under Level 2, which limits gatherings to 10 people, it will be hard for most Branches to hold usual club nights. We anticipate that if Covid-19 remains under control that Government will loosen size restrictions. Ultimately get in touch with your Branch committee as they are best placed to make a decision as to when gatherings and events can go ahead.
NZDA is pleased to see that our volunteer programs can re-start again and we know there will be lots of catch up work to do. We thank our members for giving up their time and energy on these projects.
DOC have said today:
Tahr rut ballots
The tahr rut runs from late April to late June 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.
Several Himalayan tahr rut ballot periods have been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, however the remaining 2020 tahr ballot periods will recommence from Saturday 16 May 2020.
We will contact ballot holders to check whether they would still like this opportunity to hunt tahr. If a ballot holder is unable to take up a ballot and notifies DOC within seven days of being contacted, their ballot will be rolled over to next year. If the hunter does not respond to DOC’s email, DOC will assume the ballot holder has accepted the hunting block for 2020 and it won’t be rolled over to 2021. Any remaining hunting blocks in the 2020 ballot that are no longer required by hunters will become available to other parties on a first in first served basis through the DOC website.
If hunters ballots were affected by COVID Level 3 and 4 restrictions, they will have an opportunity to move their ballot to the same time period in 2021.
Note: Travel and helicopter transport for hunting ballots are still subject to any COVID-19 restrictions affecting hunting parties or Westland
Deer ballot blocks and restricted hunting areas
DOC have said today:
Deer roar ballots
Some hunting blocks assigned to hunters as part of the 2020 deer roar ballots did not go ahead during Alert Level 3 and 4. Ballot holders can choose to have their allocated block transferred to the same period next year. Where ballot holders did have the opportunity to take up their blocks, these will be either re-drawn in a limited ballot, or made available to book for 2021. We will contact ballot holders whose hunting trips were partially affected by COVID-19 in due course.
DOC staff are focused on ensuring any hunting ballots or bookings planned for the next few months go ahead. Once this process is complete we will contact affected ballot holders regarding next year’s ballots and hunting blocks.
The following roar ballots were affected by COVID-19. If hunters were unable to hunt on the hunting block, their ballot will be rolled over to 2021.
Northern South Island
•Molesworth roar ballot
•Haast roar ballot
Southern South Island
•Wanaka roar ballot
•Greenstone/Caples roar ballot
•Coastal Otago ballots: Waianakarua, Glencoe, Mill Creek, Waipori Falls
•Murihiku ballots: Waikaia, Leithen Bush, MacLennan, Tautuku, Blue Mountains
•Rakuira/Stewart Island booking system
Restricted hunting areas
Nationally there are approximately 110 restricted hunting areas that are available to the public and managed by the Department. These areas sit outside the online open area hunting blocks and the popular roar and rut ballots.
Prior to moving to COVID-19 Alert Level 4, some hunters will have had a permit or booking to hunt in a restricted hunting area. Due to COVID restrictions these bookings did not go ahead. Permits will not be rolled over once we return to Level 2 and hunters will need to contact their local DOC district office to apply for a new restricted hunting permit/booking.
DOC will honour any remaining restricted hunting permits or bookings (booked prior to Alert Level 4) once New Zealand has returned to Alert Level 2. Restricted hunting permits will be subject to any COVID-19 restrictions that may apply, as well as local restrictions
Rifle Ranges under Level 2
Branches and Branch committees will need to determine if their rifle range can be open and on what terms and protocols must be followed. We would support each Branch opening their rifle range so long as the Government’s Covid-19 guidelines can be adhered to. Please contact your relevant Branch for information.
Lastly, when you do get out hunting again under Level 2, please keep safe, use sound judgement, and represent our hunting community well, just as you have done so far. Many of your fellow members will be feeling hardship and some anxiety – give them a call and check up on them. Hunters are a close-knit group and enjoying the social aspect of Branch club nights and trips. If you’re lucky enough to shoot a deer, chamois, tahr or pig, see if any of your fellow members would like a cut of venison!