The New Zealand press is today covering the story of the Norwegian hunters, who filmed themselves shooting Kereru whilst on holiday in New Zealand, facing criminal charges if they ever dare to return to New Zealand. From the Herald:
“The men caused outrage both here and in Norway after posting a video of their trip on YouTube, including a clip where one of the men used a high-powered rifle to shoot a native kereru pigeon.Do New Zealanders also feel “justifiably angered” by DOC’s announcement that they’re planning to slaughter the entire population of native Weka (photo above) from the Open Bay Islands? (source 3News)
The video showed a man holding two dead kereru and also had a clip showing a paradise duck being shot illegally with a rifle.
Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson said the Department of Conservation (DOC) had completed its investigation into the hunters and found two paradise ducks had been shot out of season during a four-day hunt near Franz Josef.
“I have received an emailed apology from the five men, and while I accept they now regret what they have done, I don’t consider their excuses to be credible,” Ms Wilkinson said today.
“The callous disregard these men showed for our native wildlife was outrageous and New Zealanders were justifiably angered by the footage they released.”
“3 News has learned the Department of Conservation is planning to kill the entire weka population on two remote islands off the West Coast of the South Island.
The weka is a cheeky, pesky little bird and the mass extermination will see around 100 native birds killed off.
The killing is to protect rare geckos, skinks and an indigenous leech, which are themselves threatened by the weka.
The dead birds may be given to local Maori for food.
Bird lover Mike Bennett is fighting to save up to 100 of the birds, which DOC wants to eradicate from the uninhabited Open Bay Islands off the West Coast.
“The people of New Zealand own those wekas,” says Mr Bennett.
Publicly DOC is saying no decision has yet been taken, but 3 News has obtained internal emails which show its intent on the weka cull.
DOC is planning on advising the Minister of Conservation that “euthanasing” the weka is “legal and defendable” and its “duty”…Ric Cullinane, from Fish and Game says it is not only the death of the animals which is disturbing. They’ve broken laws around hunting without a license, hunting outside a season and using a rifle. He says ignorance is no excuse. There’s no information given to visitors about hunting regulations.
..Mr Bennett says Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson needs to bring a stop to the killing.
“I think she needs to take a firm grip on the controls, and say ‘I am the boss’. She has the bureaucrats to advise her but the buck stops with her,” he says.
Ms Wilkinson says she needs for information before making a judgment.
“Well the weka are a native species and of course I have an interest in native species as the Minister for Conservation, but again I have to get the full facts of what’s happening down there,” she says.
Killing one native species to save another is a hard decision and questions will be asked about whether DOC has kept its minister and the public properly informed.
DOC, you may recall, is responsible for drops of the highly toxic 1080, which indiscriminately kills countless numbers of native wildlife, as well as the possums, stoats and other small mammals that it’s supposed to be targeted at. See posts tagged 1080 for details
After a 1080 drop at Mount Edmont National Park there was allegedly “No Bird life left”.
Back in March we wrote about a possum skin trader, Stu Bracegirdle of Inglewood, who had visited the park twice since the drop. He said that it’s not just the possums that were killed, he said there is no bird life left :
“Mr Bracegirdle said he often set traps to catch possums around the Mangaoraka picnic area, 2.3km up from the park entrance and 4.5km below the North Egmont Road.Talk about double standards! Let’s hope that Kate Wilkinson applies the same reasoning to the slaughter of the Weka as she did to the killing of the brace of ducks and Kereru.
He could not hear or see any birdlife there now. “It was just dead. There was nothing.
“It’s a funny feeling, eh? I’ve spent 15 to 20 years on the mountain as a trapper, and you always had fantails, tomtits follow you round – there’s just nothing.”
Mr Bracegirdle claimed that when he visited that area following the first 1080 drop in the mid-1990s, he took “heaps of pictures of dead birds”. However, because they were not in J-peg format, DOC would not look at them.”
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