Heli-hunting

Stuff reports:

Heli-hunters are vowing to fight moves from Associate Conservation Minister Peter Dunne to ban their sport, saying any legislation to outlaw it “defies logic and common sense”. …

According to the Department of Conservation, commercial heli- was an established industry with mostly foreign clients paying a trophy fee of about $5000 per animal.

Colin Withnall, QC, the legal representative for aerial assisted helicopter hunting groups, said closing down the industry would cost the New Zealand economy millions of dollars.

But the Deerstalkers’ Association has labelled it “abhorrent”.

“It’s absolutely abhorrent and it doesn’t take place anywhere else in the world,” Snow Hewetson, of the association’s national executive, said.

“There’s no fair play involved. There’s no chance for the animal to escape. It’s just someone sitting in a helicopter running the animal down until they’re too tired to go any further and then shooting them.

“It’s not sport, it’s inhuman, it’s not a good look for New Zealand.”

But heli-hunting operating groups say they are doing the country a favour by keeping wild deer and goat numbers down.

Neville Cunningham, of Mt Cook Trophy Hunting, said the proposed ban went against “logic” and “common sense”.

Mr Cunningham said that as well as providing affluent tourists with an “adventure experience”, such guided tours also helped the Department of Conservation with pest management.

Heli-hunting has no appeal to me, but I don’t see how it is any more “inhuman” than normal hunting.  If the species hunted is legal to hunt, I’m not sure we should be dictating the method of hunting. We already have animal welfare laws and if any hunting method was deemed “inhuman” then the operators could be prosecuted for animal cruelty. So I’m not sure why legislation is needed.

The Press editorial says:

One of the more obnoxious forms of it, hazing, in which animals are pursued, sometimes to the point of exhaustion, by helicopter before being shot are banned under the industry’s code of practice. Another form, shooting trophy animals directly from a helicopter, is “not condoned” by the code and since last year has been prohibited. A third form, herding, where a shooter is left on the ground and the helicopter is used to herd trophy animals towards him or her, is still permitted. Dunne wants that practice outlawed, too, but allowed it to continue under the concessions he granted last year.

The version that pursues animals to exhaustion has already been banned. So why ban taking a shot from a helicopter rather than on the ground? Absolutely it is not very sporting, but I don’t think it is up to the state to force hunters to be sporting. The only concern should be animal welfare.

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