Game bird hunters will be in the public eye as never before when the season opens on Saturday, and safety measures have never been more important, according to Fish & Game chief executive Martin Taylor.

"It is crucial that hunters treat the safe transport and handling of their shotguns with the utmost care and sensitivity," Mr Taylor said.

"This will be the first season under the reformed gun laws, which have made most semi-automatic firearms illegal. Fish & Game supports these changes, and believes that good decisions have been made for both game bird hunters and the community. There will be no real change for the vast majority of game bird hunters, as we successfully made a case to retain semi-auto and pump shotguns for game bird hunting, as long as their internal magazines only hold five shots."

Thousands of licensed hunters would be out in the field over the weekend, he added, and every one of them should have made themselves completely familiar with the new gun laws, and what they need to do to comply.

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Fish & Game had asked the police to clarify some points of the new law, and was sending those details to all game bird licence holders.

Meanwhile every hunter was urged to focus on safe gun-handling by each person in their party, and to be fastidious about checking firing zones to ensure it was safe to fire. Fish & Game was again joining with the police, the Mountain Safety Council and Water Safety New Zealand to advise game bird hunting licence holders to focus carefully on their actions, and make sure they do everything possible to keep both themselves and others safe.

All hunters were advised to go to www.police.govt.nz and click on the yellow Firearms Law Reform Information link.