Law Change Threatens Fish & Game’s Ability To Protect Wildlife

  • 7/07/2016

Fish & Game is warning that proposed changes to wildlife legislation will severely restrict its ability to do its job and protect wildlife and the environment.

Voluntary Ranger Keith Ross checks Game bird hunters on opening morning North Canterbury 2016The Wildlife (Powers) Amendment Bill gives DoC staff greater powers to fight wildlife offences but specifically excludes Fish & Game rangers.

Fish & Game is today appearing before the select committee considering the bill to ask for changes. Of particular concern are clauses covering the powers to seize evidence, stop suspects, prevent offending and require offenders to give their identity. The present bill specifically excludes Fish & Game rangers from having those powers.

Fish & Game chief executive Bryce Johnson says while the organisation generally supports the bill’s intent, it opposes efforts to exclude Fish & Game.

“It’s a mystery why Fish & Game has been excluded. We want to be treated the same as other conservation enforcement agencies. Fish & Game is a statutory organisation under the Conservation Act and is required to enforce conservation, fisheries and game laws,” Mr Johnson says.

“We are asking Parliament to acknowledge Fish & Game staff and rangers’ efforts to protect New Zealand’s unique wildlife and change this bill so they can continue to do this valuable work,” he says.

Fish & Game fields hundreds of staff and volunteers as rangers throughout the country. Each has undergone a police check and received training similar to that given to DoC and MPI staff.

“Fish & Game’s rangers are well trained and detect hundreds of wildlife, game and environment offences every year. Already, in some regions rangers face a difficult and dangerous job and routinely have to wear stab-proof vests while on patrol,” Bryce Johnson says.

“Failure to acknowledge that will make their job harder,” he says. Bryce Johnson says the bill also fails to recognise that the police routinely work with Fish & Game.

“When working with Fish & Game, sworn police officers are deemed to be Fish & Game rangers. To specifically exclude Fish & Game rangers from the bill also excludes the police,” Mr Johnson says.

Fish & Game says the solution is straightforward.

“We are asking the select committee to change the bill so it no longer specifically excludes Fish & Game rangers from doing their job,“ Mr Johnson says.

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