The planned phase-out of lead shot for waterfowl hunting is now complete.
Since 2004, most hunters who use 10 or 12 gauge shotguns have been required to use non-toxic shot when hunting waterfowl within 200 metres of water.
2021 saw a complete ban on the use of lead shot for all but 410 gauge,
This ban will be strictly enforced on public, private, DOC and Fish & Game land for and all hunters other than those using 410 gauge. You must use non-toxic shot, nothing else.
The 410 exemption has been given because these shotguns are sometimes used by beginner hunters, and non-toxic shot loads are not currently available for them.
The phase-out of lead shot follows research that shows that waterfowl get poisoned when they pick up fired lead shot and eat it as a grit substitute to help them digest their food. New Zealand research showed the problem was the same here as in overseas countries.
Non-toxic shot does not contain lead and the most commonly available type uses steel pellets. Steel shot is already widely used in New Zealand.
Check out some frequently asked questions about Non-Toxic shot here.
Read more about lead poisoning in game birds here
Lead shot has been banned or restricted in many parts of the world for many years because it's been shown to poison ducks that accidentally eat it as grit.
Studies showed that New Zealand was no different to other countries that had already switched to non-toxic shot. The Government made the decision to go non-toxic and requested Fish & Game to implement a staged and progressive introduction of non-toxic shot provisions several years ago.
The 200m rule may sound like an odd exemption, but it does allow, for instance, hunting waterfowl over paddocks with lead. The Government originally proposed that ALL lead shot be banned for all activities, including ALL upland game bird hunting, ALL clay target shooting and ALL farm pest control. Fish & Game was successful in having this extreme requirement softened.
The 200m rule recognises that lead is not a problem away from waterways.
While the 200m rule could be criticised, no one has yet thought up a better rule to fit the circumstances. The concessions have been hard fought for to allow for paddock shooting of ducks and parries especially, please respect them.
For more information, please read our Toxic Shot Regulations FAQ.
Read this extensive article by John Dyer, Senior Wildlife Manager, Auckland/Waikato Fish & Game Council (and Shotgun Editor, NZ Guns & Hunting magazine). July 2011.
View our Non-Toxic Shot Regulations FAQs on our general FAQs section here.