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Deer poachers should pay for ‘massacre’

Deer on Bud Jones’ property, near Eketahuna. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Police have powers under Wild Animal Control Act

Eketahuna identity Bud Jones is frustrated and angry that poachers caught in the act of killing eight deer on his property in January have still not been prosecuted.

Jones, who was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal in 2014 for services to music and conservation, and has created significant wetlands to the west of Eketahuna, says he has mixed feelings about the actions of the police.

“The police response to apprehend the poachers was good but over lack of prosecution, I’m disappointed in the indifference, lack of firm action, the theft and the cruelty inflicted on the deer,” he said.

When asked by the Times-Age about the case, police said inquiries are “continuing”, but were otherwise tight-lipped.

“We are unable to provide any further information at this stage,” a police spokeperson said.

Jones said the incident on his property happened on January 8 when four shooters armed with rifles entered his property by breaching a 2.5m deer-proof fence.

He said the group was intent on killing as many fallow deer as possible, “presumably for target practice”.
Neighbours heard the shots, counting 25 to 30, and the farm manager investigated, taking up viewing positions from high points. The intruders were surrounded and detained, while the farm manager rang 111.

“Within minutes police squad cars arrived seemingly fully prepared for an armed offenders’ event with tasers, and an assault rifle,” Jones said. “At least two officers emerged with pistols drawn at the ready.

“The police interviewed the offenders and one shooter admitted having been there two weeks previous to scout the situation for the massacre day.”

Jones said firearms licences were noted and identification details taken from all the shooters, but police did not confiscate any firearms or take any statements from witnesses.

The carnage was sickening, Jones said.

“Eight female deer were killed by rifle fire. All were milking with fawns at foot and all fawns have died subsequently, lacking mothers’ milk.”

One shooter did not have a gun licence and was a “designated musterer” to push animals back to shooter positions.

Another described by Jones as the “ring leader of the group” was a guide for his two sons and admitted having poached there several times before for deer and Canada geese. He said, he did not enter the property on January 8, but did shoot a deer running the fence line.

Jones said that in light of the Christchurch mosque shootings, firm action is required.

“Surely police need to be firm, apply the fullest extent of the law and make an example of these offenders, and especially with Christchurch show that police are not soft on firearms crime,” he said.

Hunting and fishing author Tony Orman said police had strong powers under the Wild Animal Control Act and the offenders, if proved guilty in court, should have rifles and vehicles used confiscated, firearm licences cancelled, and convictions imposed.

On March 29, three poachers were prosecuted in Masterton District Court for the shooting of an $11,500 trophy stag at a Masterton game reserve.

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