How to trap a poacher
Illegal deer hunting may be putting pleasure seekers in danger at Woodhill Forest.
Helensville police have issued a warning against the practice.
Illegal poaching is not only theft but could also put innocent bystanders at risk, Sergeant Paula Enoka of Helensville police says.
"Woodhill's not a set hunting place so they don't know who else is in the area.
"The poachers could think they're doing everything safely while someone else is enjoying the track and could be hit."
People flock to the forest to ride horses, 4WD and trail biking, mountain biking, orienteering and tree adventures.
Horse riders and other users have reported hearing rifle shots during the day, Specialist Surveillance Services director Roger Winslade says.
The security contractor for Hancock Forest Management stands guard over the pine forest. Winslade works closely with police to catch intruders including thieves and poachers of deer and pigs.
The former Rodney policeman has heard reports of near misses fired by hunters.
A man walking his dog in the bush off Rimmer Rd heard an arrow fly past his head.
"I think it's a matter of when, not if, someone gets hurt," Winslade says.
One man shot a deer from the main road leading into Woodhill Forest, he says.
"On that morning there were dozens of cars coming past. He shot the deer right by a sign that said ‘no hunting or no shooting'."
The deer was hit only 80 metres from a houseand right next to the forestry Woodhill office, he says.
One of the neighbours reported hearing shots and two men were caught as they were about to toss a gutted deer into the back of their ute.
The forest is owned by Nga Maunga Whakahii o Kaipara and leased to commercial operator Hancock Forest Management.
The forest is difficult to patrol because it spans 12,500 hectares from Muriwai in the south to South Head in the north.
But Winslade is nabbing more poachers with the sting of a man-made scorpion.
The Scorpion 1000 detection unit sends a signal to a satellite which bounces to a computer or cellphone and alerts the user of the exact time and location of an intrusion.
Triggers are hidden.
"There's been a few thefts from forestry crews and we set up the scorpions to track these guys once they enter the forest," he says.
As a result, poachers are also falling into the net. The scorpion has caught 14 alleged poachers or thieves since it was installed at Christmas.
Among them was a man who had lost his firearms licence for poaching but was caught in the forest with a firearm, Winslade says.
"He had been trespassed from most forests in the north island so he was a prolific offender. It's a significant problem for forests and farms around the district and the whole of New Zealand."
The scorpion helped police capture eight people who drove into the forest with equipment allegedly stolen from a forestry contractor's vehicle. This followed a spate of thefts of diesel and gear from contractors' cars.