One thing is increasingly obvious: Anti-hunters never sleep—not here in America, not anywhere—because they are working 24/7 for our utter destruction. But I’m an optimist so a few years ago when my wife, Karen, and I hunted red stag in New Zealand, I remember our taking in the beauty of the land and its wildlife and thinking surely hunters at least would always find peace here. Then came May 2015 when the country updated its Animal Welfare Act of 1999 and passed the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill defining animals as "sentient beings." The tweak in text meant New Zealanders were required to recognize animals as having and expressing feelings and emotions—just like humans. While this bill did not outlaw hunting, it likely sets up the next round of jabs from animal-rights extremists who will try and stop it.
It's no surprise that the new law enthused the antis, and because it has been incorrectly reported by some sources that hunting in New Zealand is now banned, the law continues to cause confusion, making headlines in Sporting Classics Daily as recently as last week. Rest assured that while a clause in the bill addresses the ill-treating, hunting or killing of wild animals—seeming to imply an end to hunting—Section 30b (1) states "nothing in this act makes it unlawful to hunt or kill," and 30c (1) states "nothing in this act makes it unlawful to hunt a wild animal that is available for hunting in a Safari park."
"We are still hunting in New Zealand, and we welcome our international guests," said John Scurr, president of the New Zealand Professional Hunting Guides Association (PHGA), in an interview with AmericanHunter.org/HLF on Sunday. "We at the association have our own code of practice as do associated hunting groups, and we are represented by the Game Animal Council at the government level. We are well organized as a hunting nation and will deal with any further discussion if it arises."
Scurr, who has been a professional hunter for 15 years, says he has a good relationship with the National Rifle Association and has enjoyed getting to know the many NRA members who have hunted with him through the years. In fact, unless he is just too booked to get away this spring, we NRA members may catch up with him on the show floor at the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Louisville, Ky., May 20-22.
"New Zealand is a great country to visit, and hunting is often intertwined with tourism," Scurr adds. "We are a passionate hunting nation and funds generated are becoming significant within our GDP."
Worth noting is that while I've hunted New Zealand multiple times, most recently with friends John and Wyatt McBride of Spey Creek Trophy Hunting, when I asked outfitters there for their take on the law, they said such comments now must come from the PHGA. The decision was made after all the bad press surrounding "Cecil the lion." This is another example of how a hunting incident halfway around the world has local implications, bringing to mind past NRA President Charlton Heston's words about how we NRA members, hunters and shooters must practice eternal vigilance when defending our rights.