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Hunter who killed best friend sentenced to home detention

By Tracey Roxburgh of the Otago Daily Times - Monday May 14th, 2012

A Wanaka hunter who shot and killed his best friend after mistaking him for a deer on December 19 last year has been sentenced to seven months' home detention.

Reuben Kenneth James Burke, 25, was also sentenced to 300 hours' community work, ordered to pay $10,000 emotional harm reparation to the family of Dougal Sisston Stanfield Fyfe, 23, forfeit the .22 calibre rifle used in the incident to the Crown and had his firearms licence cancelled by Judge Kevin Phillips in Queenstown District Court this morning.

Members of the Burke and Fyfe families supported each other and Burke, who stood quietly in the dock, as Judge Phillips handed down the sentence.

Defence counsel Phena Byrne said "little would be gained" from sending Burke to prison and a sentence of imprisonment would have been unlikely to have provided any solace to the victim's family.

"This is a tragic, difficult and emotional case," she said.

"One family has lost a son, brother and a friend, another family stands before you looking at a son, brother and partner... awaiting his fate."

The maximum penalty for the charge of careless use of a firearm causing death was three years' imprisonment.

Judge Phillips told Burke "you sentence yourself every morning and think about what you did".

The court was told Burke, Mr Fyfe and another associate, Benjamin Sutherland, were at a Christmas party together in Maungawerea Valley Rd on December 18.

After a barbecue and consuming two or three beers the trio went eeling at Lake Wanaka, before going rabbit shooting on Mr Sutherland's farm.

About 1am the trio spotted a deer on land belonging to Mt Burke Station and began pursuing it.

Believing it had been shot, Burke and Mr Fyfe began to chase the deer on foot, while Mr Sutherland remained in the vehicle.

Burke moved around a thick manuka stand and, believing Mr Fyfe was behind him, aimed and shot at an eye reflection about 60m away, called out to Mr Fyfe - got no reply - and then shot.

Burke called out again to Mr Fyfe, got no reply, and went to where he had fired the shot, finding him on the ground.

Humane Society calls for reform of Wildlife Services after Bee series

Saturday, May. 12, 2012 - The Sacramento Bee

The nation's largest animal protection organization, the Humane Society of the United States, is calling for reform of the federal government's wildlife damage control program.

Citing recent stories in The Bee, the society's president, Wayne Pacelle, has asked U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to investigate Wildlife Services, the agency in charge of the killing, and ban its use of poison for predator control.

"Even given our longstanding concerns about Wildlife Services, we are dismayed at the extent and depth of problems reported in the Sacramento Bee," Pacelle wrote on May 7 to Vilsack. "For these reasons, the HSUS urges USDA to take a hard look at the … program and make critically needed and long-overdue reforms."

The Bee found that Wildlife Service's traps, snares and poison have killed more than 50,000 non-target species since 2000, from family pets to federally protected bald and golden eagles. Also, several employees have been killed or injured in aerial gunning crashes, and a growing body of science has found the heavy killing of predators invites unintended ecological consequences, including the proliferation of rodents.

"The Bee's highly detailed series shed light on an agency that most people don't know a lot about," said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who co-sponsored a bill with Rep. John Campbell, R-Newport Beach, in March to ban the agency's use of sodium cyanide along with a less commonly used poison, Compound 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate.)

The three-part series, which began April 29, was widely disseminated on the Internet and has touched off a drumbeat of concern, comment and calls for change.

"Is the writing on the wall for Wildlife Services?" wrote North Carolina resident DeLene Beeland in a blog, Wild Muse. "... In my opinion, we've advanced far beyond the mentality of the time period in which Wildlife Services was first formed. Why hang onto an anachronism?"

Blogs posts at Discover Magazine, Defenders of Wildlife and other sites also addressed the issue. An online petition – www. thepetitionsite.com/378/318/356/us-wildlife-services-stop-waging-war-on-our-wildlife – urges federal officials to "Stop Waging War on OUR Wildlife!" It seeks 10,000 signatures. On Friday evening, it had 5,688.

Pacelle, the Humane Society president, said that Wildlife Services is "over-reaching in a dramatic and destructive way and slaughtering animals, even before they do any damage."

In his letter to Vilsack, he called for an immediate ban on sodium cyanide M-44 capsules and Compound 1080. Vilsack did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Wildlife Services officials. But earlier this year, William Clay, the agency's deputy administrator, defended the agency's damage control work, including traps, snares and poison.

"Wildlife is a publicly owned resource and state and federal wildlife agencies have a responsibility to maintain stable, healthy populations. But when those populations get to the point where they cause damage, those same government (agencies) also have a responsibility to manage that damage," Clay said.

But Pacelle, whose organization has 11 million members, said the agency's management often leads to the accidental killing of non-offending animals and lacks accountability.

"It is particularly troubling that employees report a culture of hiding non-target animals killed," he wrote in his letter to Vilsack, "especially considering the agency requirements for reporting those kills."

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/05/12/4484718/humane-society-calls-for-reform.html#storylink=cpy


Duck shooting: Varied start to season

Hawkesbay today - Patrick O'Sullivan | Friday, May 11, 2012 6:00

Patchy Hawke's Bay weather saw a patchy start to the duck-shooting season, says Fish and Game officer Tom Winlove.

"Although the weather wasn't the most ideal for duck hunting some areas still had some great success," Mr Winlove said.

"It was calm around Central Hawke's Bay but there was a solid covering of cloud, unlike the more northern parts of Hawke's Bay who had a fine blue bird day. This meant ducks were flying a bit lower in these parts and resulted in some slightly better hunting.

"Some hunting parties reported some of their best opening weekend hunts to date, which is pleasing to hear.

"Hunters who were battered by the sun on average enjoyed slightly less success, but there were a number of groups who still did well with good bags taken.

"Across the board the start of the season was a success as it's not so much about the numbers on opening weekend as it is about traditions, family and friends and getting the next generation of hunters out there doing it.


"There were no major compliance issues across the region, which was pleasing, but rangers will be putting in a conscious effort during the season also to ensure hunters are licensed and sticking to regulations. There have been no reported firearms incidences from the weekend across the country, which shows hunters have taken on the firearms safety messages and are being responsible hunters, which is great to see."

Napier police firearms officer Heather Matheson said although duck shooting was about camaraderie and fun police were "as anxious as anyone" for hunters to survive the season without harm to themselves or others.

"Most shooters are familiar with the common rules regarding firearm safety, it's the putting those rules into practise that, in the heat of the moment, can be challenging for some," she said.

"Shotguns must be unloaded as they are transported and carried to and from the shooting area.

"Liquor shouldn't be part of the action until after the shoot when all guns are safely away.

"The field of fire must take into account any other shooters or persons who are in, or may pass through, that zone. Don't tolerate unsafe behaviour from anyone, whether they are in your group or not.

"Finger off the trigger until taking an aimed shot."


Firearms Amendment (Ammunition Control) Bill 2012 - Australia


The Hon. ROBERT BROWN [9.08 p.m.]: I refer to the Firearms Amendment (Ammunition Control) Bill 2012, and attendant the regulation, which was passed by this House yesterday in a filthy deal between the Coalition and The Greens to do over the law-abiding firearms owners of this State. Shooters should be concerned about this new attack on shooters by the Liberals and, by default, The Nationals and The Greens. This regulation is simply a new tax of $30 on each person who now needs to apply for a permit to buy ammunition. There was no need for this regulation because there was no need for the bill. Observant members might have noticed that the regulation was dated 27 March 2012. Apparently this little fiasco was held over until yesterday to hide it behind the Federal budget media coverage. Every government acts in that way—Labor and Coalition. They dump out bad news or play politics on budget day; this Government is no different.

This regulation provides for persons holding a firearms licence to apply for a $30 ammunition permit to allow them to purchase ammunition for a firearm they are licensed to use but that is not registered to them when the person is a member of the same household as a person who has a firearm of that calibre licensed to them; or the person is employed or engaged by a person who has a firearm of that calibre licensed to them, and it is part of the first person's duties to purchase ammunition for that firearm. The regulation also provides a general power for the commissioner to issue an ammunition permit in other circumstances. The regulation provides a way for employees to purchase ammunition for a work firearm and a way for members of a household to purchase ammunition for firearms owned by other household members.

But enough of what the Government claims the regulation does do. What it does not address are the problems that will be caused, for example, when a licensed person borrows a firearm with a calibre and they do not already own a firearm with that calibre from a person who is not a member of their household and wishes to purchase ammunition for it, when a person who is driving to a remote property to hunt offers to bring ammunition with them for firearms owned by the property owner, when a licensed person who is a parent of a minor wishes to purchase ammunition for their child to use in a borrowed firearm that is of a different calibre to any the parent has registered to them, when a licensed person who chooses not to own a firearm borrows one for hunting or target shooting, or myriad other situations that have been identified to the Government but ignored.

In what appears to be something straight from Yes, Minister, the regulation imposes an additional $30 permit fee to allow already licensed persons to purchase ammunition that they are already authorised to possess under the conditions of their firearms licence. It imposes more work on the Firearms Registry, taking more money from the Police budget for administration, which means there is less available for policing. This raises questions about further costs to shooters. Will an additional $30 be required each time a member of a shooter's household purchases a firearm in an additional calibre and the permit must be amended? That is what happens to firearms owners. We were told that this bill was needed to address the drive-by shootings in Sydney's south-west.

The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: I didn't say that.

The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: That is true. This legislation does not address drive-by shootings. If the Government thinks it does, I would like to be provided with the supporting information by the police Minister or the Attorney General demonstrating that they are right and I am wrong. I do not think they will do that because they know this legislation is a political stunt rather than a genuine attempt to stop criminals shooting at each other's houses. This Liberal-Nationals Government will have to live with the fact that it is prepared to deal with The Greens on firearms legislation rather than talk to shooters, or even their own firearms consultative committee. It would have been sensible to do that before introducing the legislation.

I do not think the Premier listens to his Nationals Coalition colleagues on this issue. I assure members that we in the Shooters and Fishers Party will be making that clear to people in the bush. The Shooters and Fishers Party no longer believes the Government is prepared to deal in good faith about firearms issues. We will ensure that all licensed firearms owners are aware of this new paradigm of a Liberal-Greens coalition with regard to firearms decisions that the Premier seems to think will work for him. The Shooters and Fishers Party disagrees. In fact, we wish him good luck—and he will need it if he is metaphorically getting into bed with The Greens. ENDS.

Shooters and Fishers Party  Web: http://www.shootersandfishers.org.au


1080 drop planned for Wainuiomata

Dominion Post - MICHAEL FORBES 08/05/2012

A 1080 poison drop happening in the hills behind Wainuiomata could pose a risk to dogs in the area.

Greater Wellington regional council and the Animal Health Board will join forces later this month to put nearly 30,000 hectares of public and private land in the Rimutaka Range under possum control.

Animal Health Board southern North Island programme manager Alan Innes said signs would be erected at all main public access points warning owners to keep their dogs away. They will remain in place for at least six months.

"Occasionally, poisoned carcasses may be washed downstream into areas outside the operation boundaries, usually after heavy rain," he said.

"While every effort is made to recover these carcasses, dog walkers are advised to remain vigilant. Free dog muzzles will be provided on request."

Included in the aerial drop zone is the council's Wainuiomata-Orongorongo water collection area, one of three main water sources for Hutt Valley, Porirua and Wellington.

It provides about 20 per cent of the tap water for the Wellington metropolitan area.

Mr Innes said 1080 was biodegradable and soluble, so it would not persist in water or soil.

Water in the supply rivers and streams would be independently monitored throughout the operation and the council would not take water from the catchment area during or directly after, he said.

But that did little to ease the mind of Wainuiomata resident Sue Thrasher, who lives on the fringe of the drop zone.

"Animals who are poisoned by 1080 tend to seek water, and they often die on the water's edge," she said.

"So we're talking about Wellington's water supply not only being potentially contaminated by direct [poison] drops, we're talking about Wellington's water supply also being contaminated by dead or dying animals.''

Ms Thrasher said the poison drop area also contained many popular tracks, including the Rimutaka rail trail and Gum tree loop walk, which people use to walk their dogs.

"That makes me really uncomfortable. I don't like the idea that they're dropping it in a place where people are out walking their dogs and taking their kids.''

Ms Thrasher said she was not a fan of laying possum traps, but she would prefer them to 1080 poison.

A spokesman for the council said it was more cost effective to use 1080 over an area the size and ruggedness of the Rimutaka Range.

"Parts of the treatment areas are just too remote for trapping," he said.

The pest control operation is designed to protect cattle and deer herds from bovine tuberculosis and improve the health of native forest.

The areas being treated with 1080 have all undergone aerial possum control operations in the past. The last was in 2007.


1,000 legislators sign Declaration on Arms Trade Treaty 

MP for Manukau East
President of Parliamentarians for Global Action
Associate Disarmament Spokesperson

1,000 legislators sign up to Parliamentary Declaration on Arms Trade Treaty

The Control Arms Global Parliamentary Declaration on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) has now been signed by over 1,000 legislators, including 80 from New Zealand, says Labour MP Ross Robertson.

The Arms Trade Treaty seeks to ensure the responsible control, trade and export of conventional weapons.

Mr Robertson, the President of Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) and Labour’s Associate Spokesperson for Disarmament, said that PGA has played a leading role in raising awareness of, and support for the ATT.

“In particular, the PGA has encouraged legislators across 47 countries to sign the Control Arms Global Parliamentary Declaration on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

“I welcome this important landmark,” Ross Robertson said. “Parliamentarians are fundamental stakeholders advocating for the Treaty itself, and calling for its ratification when it is in place.

“This also extends to drafting and introducing legislation to give effect to the ATT in all of our respective countries, when the ATT text is agreed upon.

“It is my hope that many more of my fellow legislators around the world will follow the excellent example set by over 1,000 of their colleagues in 47 countries and also sign this Declaration,” said Ross Robertson.

“The Control Arms Global Parliamentary Declaration on the ATT will be presented at the United Nations in early July 2012 to coincide with the beginning of the UN ATT Diplomatic Conference,” Ross Robertson said.


The Control Arms Global Parliamentary Declaration on the Arms Trade Treaty may be viewed at:

More information on PGA may be found at: www.pgaction.org


'Pigheaded' duck shooters under fire

By Susan Sandys May 8, 2012

Fish and Game officers are disappointed at a high number of “pigheaded” duck shooters who were without licences or used lead shot on opening weekend.

Central South Island Fish and Game officer Mark Webb was a member of one of several parties of rangers which hit ponds between the Rakaia and Ashburton Rivers.
He said the area was targeted after complaints from shooters about others who may be breaking regulations. Additionally rangers had not been to that area for a while.
“As a ranger it was very disappointing,” Mr Webb said.
“I have been here 28 years, it was probably the worst compliance that I have experienced.”
There had been “no rhyme nor reason” for the non-compliance, and those breaking rules were old and young alike.
Up to 20 infringement notices were issued, two thirds for not having licences and the majority of the remaining infringements were issued for using lead shot. The final figure would not be known until those who said they had bought a license but did not have it with them had proved their case.
Fish and Game will investigate the case around each infringement notice, and decide whether to file a court prosecution or seek a penalty fee.
“Some were just pigheaded, they said we know what the regulations are, we don’t care, we are going to carry on shooting this way. It’s not even about trying to escape or plead their way out of it,” Mr Webb said.
The attitude made ranging easy, “because they admit the offence straight up”, he said.
However, there had been no abuse or intimidation, and those caught had generally thanked the rangers involved.
Only one lot of shooters had breached regulations with regard to alcohol, but the incident was relatively minor. Alcohol had been in the maimai, and was not actually being drunk by the shooters.
Meanwhile, the average number of ducks shooters bagged over the weekend was about 20.
Mr Webb said Mid Canterbury, with its large number of irrigation ponds and grain growing paddocks, was a “huge duck producing area”.
The number of hunters in the area had increased, while the number of ducks taken by hunters had stayed the same.
The increased number of irrigation ponds had changed duck behaviour. Ducks congregated on them, and there were a large number of ponds which had not been shot at the weekend. Hunters frustrated by this would have to change their behavior in line with the ducks, and get permission from pond owners to shoot in those areas.


Duck shooting gets off to a great start!

TV3 news One hunter's 61st duck season


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Shooters push for hunters to hunt alone

Sydney Morning Herald 05/05/2012

CHILDREN as young as 12 could hunt deer, feral pigs and other animals without supervision in declared state forests under changes being considered by the NSW government as it negotiates passage of its electricity privatisation bill.
A proposed amendment to the Game and Feral Animals Control Act allows minors to use high powered hunting bows or dogs, but not firearms, to hunt unaccompanied in forests if a parent signs a permission form.
In an apparent acknowledgement of the dangers, parents would need to indemnify state government authorities ''in respect of any civil liability for the death or injury of a person, and for any damage to property''.
The proposal, being considered by the Primary Industries Minister, Katrina Hodgkinson, comes as the government agreed to establish a firearms consultative committee following lobbying by the NSW branch of the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia.
The association says the new body would ''provide a platform for all stakeholders to work together on sensible firearm laws that are effective in reducing gun crime''.
The Sporting Shooters Association has close ties with the Shooters and Fishers Party, with which the government is in delicate negotiations over passage of its electricity privatisation bill, which would deliver it billions of dollars. The two Shooters and Fishers MPs, Robert Brown and Robert Borsak, share the balance of power in the NSW upper house. The government needs the vote of one to pass legislation opposed by Labor and the Greens.
The amendment was proposed by the Game Council of NSW, which regulates hunting and of which Mr Borsak and Mr Brown are former chairmen.
The Greens MP David Shoebridge said the proposal was dangerous for children and cruel to animals. ''The fact that the government requires children's parents to indemnify the state for loss proves that it knows, right from the start, that this is a dangerous and reckless proposal,'' he said.
Labor's environment spokesman, Luke Foley, said he feared the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, ''will stop at nothing … to get his electricity sell-off through the Parliament''.
Ms Hodgkinson declined to comment. The chief executive of the Game Council of NSW, Brian Boyle, rejected the accusation the proposal was reckless.
''There are some parents, guardians and minors who wish to have this right.
''Those parents and guardians are best placed to judge if minors between the ages of 12 to 17 years of age have the ability, maturity and experience to hunt without firearms and without adult supervision,'' he said.

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