The New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association Inc (NZDA) is condemning poachers caught hunting during the COVID-19 lockdown, saying it’s illegal and undermining the wider hunting fraternity.
There have been several reports of people caught illegally hunting on farms and other land in the King Country, Manawatu, and Otago.
In the King Country, five people were caught illegally hunting on private land while in the Manawatu two people were caught killing a stag on private property. Another five were caught illegally hunting in Waitomo.
“This sort of illegal hunting is unacceptable,” said NZDA president Trevor Chappell. “It lets down the whole hunting community and the NZDA condemns poachers who are trespassing on private land.
“This hurts legitimate hunters because landowners are rightly concerned for their property and safety, with the inevitable result that access to good hunting areas is cut.
“Poachers should be prosecuted. What is worse is that this illegal activity is happening in the middle of a global health crisis and the current level four lockdown is necessary to protect New Zealand and the lives of our families, whanau, and fellow Kiwis.
He acknowledged that it was “frustrating” for hunters not being able to go hunting but said “bigger issues are at stake”.
“The NZDA is working with the Game Animal Council and Fish and Game to convince the government that hunting can happen safely under Level 3, but this sort of lawbreaking by poachers is undermining that work.”
Police concerned about reports of illegal hunting in east Otago
NZ Police has also expressed concern over the several recent incidents reports of unlawful hunting and poaching in the Waikouaiti, Dunback, McRaes, and Lawrence areas.
“Unlawful hunting puts other people who may be in the area at risk and could have potentially fatal consequences,” NZ Police said in a statement issued earlier today.
Hunting is also banned under Alert Level 4 lockdown, which is in place in New Zealand until 11:59pm Monday, 27 April.
The police is urging all landowners and station manager to call them immediately if they discover people unlawfully on their land and also to take note of the registration of any vehicles they believe any belong to illegal hunters.