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Poachers brought to justice

FILE/PHOTO

72-year-old Masterton man and companion breached lockdown

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
[email protected]

Police have arrested two men believed to be those photographed while poaching on privately-owned land in the Tinui-Castlepoint area this month.

The pair, featured on the front page of the Times-Age last Thursday, are a 72-year-old Masterton man and a 48-year-old man, who is not normally based in Wairarapa.

They have been charged under the Wild Animal Control Act 1977 in relation to illegal hunting and poaching. The pair were also issued their first warnings for breaching the covid-19 lockdown and police have confiscated one firearms licence and two firearms.

They are expected to appear in the Masterton District Court next month.

Wairarapa Police Area Commander Inspector Scott Miller said it was a good example of what could be achieved when poaching was reported to police.

He acknowledged that there was an attitude in some parts of Wairarapa that poaching incidents were not worth reporting to police. But that wasn’t the police attitude, he said.

“We want to know what’s happening in the community with illegal hunting and firearms. Any incident of unlawful hunting or poaching, or matters where firearms are used, should be reported to police.”

Since establishing a larger rural community team six months ago, headed by Sergeant Ian Osland, police had received more information, Miller said.

“I understand in the past we didn’t have that rural briefing network but it’s up and running now and we’ve had far more information coming to us through those channels.”

While there were other reports of hunting in breach of the covid-19 lockdown, the majority of hunters had followed government guidelines and were staying home, Miller said.

“Hunters who put themselves in this position, are at risk of losing their firearms licence.”

Rules are still being developed for hunting under Level 3.

However, a Mataikona farmer, who the Times-Age has agreed not to name, worried that not enough was being done to deter poachers and this could lead to vigilantism.

“We’ve got a major problem with poaching out at Mataikona.”

He told of one neighbour who had a 12-point stag shot on his property by poachers who only received a warning from police.

In another example, he said police arrived too late to catch the poachers.

He said poaching had been rife during the lockdown and hoped that the additional offence of breaking the covid-19 lockdown might lead to greater sanctions.

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