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Hunter or stag? The misidentification killing New Zealanders

Original article date: 20/03/2018


Misidentification led to 22 percent of hunting-related deaths in the last 10 years, so police and the Mountain Safety Council are warning hunters to be wary as they head out into the bush later this month.

The deer-hunting season, or "roar", starts on March 25, with hunters to go out to new or favourite spots across New Zealand.

Statistics from 2007-2016 show that 45 percent of hunting fatalities involved a firearm, with 22 percent of all deaths coming from hunters not properly identifying their prey and shooting another hunter.

About 195,000 people take part in hunting in New Zealand annually, with the majority of injuries, deaths and search and rescue operations taking place in the central North Island.

On average, 1030 people are injured while hunting in New Zealand each year - 47 people were killed hunting between 2007 and 2016, 22 of which involved a firearm.

Acting Superintendent Mike McIlraith says the responsibility is always on the shooter to positively identify their target.

"The consequences of failing to fully identify a target beyond all doubt are immediate, tragic and catastrophic," he said.

The Mountain Safety Council's insights into hunting season shows that 92 percent of misidentified target incidents occur when the individuals involved are less than 75 metres apart.

Acting Supt McIlraith said anyone planning to use a firearm is required to have a valid firearms licence and comply with the New Zealand Arms Code.

"If you do not have a licence you must be with someone who does, and they in turn must supervise the unlicensed person closely.

"It's also important to take care in the outdoors - watch your footing, know your limits, and look out for each other.

"Plan your trip, tell someone your plans, and take sufficient supplies, including a personal locator beacon."


Credit: NewsHub