A steaming pile of blood and guts was all that was left of a mob of newly bought pigs after poachers visited a Tararua farm.
In an incident that occurred earlier this year, a farmer told of taking his young grandchildren to show them the new pigs but instead they found a distressing sight.
''We released the pigs in a paddock right in the middle of the farm and they didn't even last a week.
"I took the grandchildren out to see the pigs about five days later and they were gone. All that was left was a pile of guts that was still warm. It was a heartwrenching sight.''
Anyone hunting on his property would have seen the pigs were not wild animals as they had nose rings, eartags and were friendly.
The family tried to track the poachers and after examining the area, only one set of prints into the paddock from the roadway was evident. The pigs' hearts were found hanging in nearby manuka trees.
''These pigs were really big and because we only found the one set of footprints going in, we are guessing the carcasses were helicoptered out.'' Apart from the pile of guts, the poachers also left behind two different gun cartridges.
''The buggers shot these animals at point-blank range. We found cartridges from a 300 WinMag [Winchester Magnum].''
This gun was not only big, powerful and could kill from a great distance, but was also expensive. Without handling the cartridges, the man and his son bagged them and took them to police for forensic tests, but nothing was found.
''This type of gun is not one your average shooter would use and when we enquired at the sports shop, the manager or owner told us he would be lucky to sell one packet of cartridges a year.
''On that basis I would have thought it would be easy to track down the owner.''
This incident follows on from yesterday's story about another Tararua victim of stock rustling and poaching who had his security cameras stolen after police showed photos of alleged rustlers around sporting goods shops.
In another incident several years ago, the farmer noticed his mob of cattle appeared to be shrinking.
''We realised 27 steers were missing and looked everywhere for them. Neighbours told us we shouldn't worry as they were probably in the bush.
''Another neighbour who is a pilot took me up in his plane and we flew over every inch of the farm, but we didn't find any sign of them.'' At the time, the steers were worth more than $1000 each.
At another time, two steers from a neighbouring property grazing on the roadside disappeared without trace until he found what little was left of them.
''Someone drove them into our property and slaughtered them. I believe it was a butcher who did this because it was cleanly and neatly done. The only thing I found was a bit of guts and blood.
"It was a professional job.''
He said he was not the only farmer to be hit by poachers or rustlers and knew neighbours who had also lost stock.
''We are not just talking about one or two sheep. One of them told me he has lost around 200. Most of them are like me and don't want to say anything because what's to stop these buggers coming and killing all of our stock? Nothing.'' A neighbouring sheep farmer said he had lost more than 150 sheep in recent years and at first had thought they were just wandering off or getting lost in the bush.
''I have one paddock which I use for hogget grazing. Every time I went to shift them, I noticed there was 10-13 missing. I didn't really think much of it but over time the numbers increased to 30-35 and I realised they had been fleeced.'' He discovered an electrical wire shaped into a wing left on the fence which he believed rustlers used to trap the stock.
The incidents were all reported to police, including one in which a spotlight was shone through his window one evening.
''I looked out of the window and there was this car creeping up the road. I jumped into my car and followed them. I actually ended up running them off the road and confronting them, which for safety reasons I should not have done and will never do again.'' The car drove off before he could get answers to his questions.
He no longer used that paddock for that class of stock and while incidents had declined, he was being vigilant, talking with neighbours and reporting all incidents.
His biggest concern was that he could do little to protect his stock and property and without car registrations and full descriptions of offenders, there was little police could do either.
''Another neighbour lost about a dozen steers recently. It is a bone of contention for all cockies. I guess the only thing we can do is keep a really good record and tallies of numbers going into paddocks,'' he said.
But for one farmer keeping good records and tallies wasn't needed as he knew exactly how many sheep he had in his paddock - six.
When he last went to check on his sheep he found rustlers had left behind only one live animal.
''All of the sheep were healthy animals and I reckon they probably couldn't catch her. They killed three in the paddock and left behind the guts and heads.
One was dead in the creek and another one was dead in the paddock at the far end.''
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