Firearms buyers face warning on poaching

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 08:48 28/08/2014

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Firearms bought in Marlborough might soon come with a warning against rustling and poaching.

Sergeant Mike Porter, of Blenheim, said the idea to put tags on firearms was a Marlborough police initiative aimed at reminding people that the penalty for unlawful hunting had increased.

Poachers face a maximum of two years' prison and up to a $100,000 fine. People caught could also have their firearms, dogs, and anything else used at the time of the offence confiscated.

The warning tag concept still needed approval, but Porter expected firearms bought from Marlborough shops to come with the warning by the end of the year.

Police had also erected warning signs in areas where unlawful hunting was known to take place, including the Northbank, Ure River and Rainbow Valley.

People in rural Marlborough were continually dealing with poachers on their land, Porter said.

Anyone caught stealing stock, or hunting on private land could be prosecuted.

Marlborough man Adrian Moore found three pregnant sheep with their heads cut off and five more missing from a paddock near State Highway 1, in Riverlands, on Sunday.

Another Marlborough farmer said yesterday about 350 ewes and lambs had been stolen from her farm in the past 10 years.

"It goes on all the time," she said.

"A couple of years ago we had 60 lambs stolen within a year."

It was heart-breaking when stock were stolen, she said.

"We work our arses off full time on a farm - you really struggle to keep it going," she said.

All the gates on the farm were locked because people drove through their paddocks and did what they wanted, she said.

Marlborough Federated Farmers president and Awatere Valley farmer Greg Harris said unlawful hunting was a problem for many farmers in the region.

Stock on his farm had been slaughtered a few times, he said.

"If you have someone slaughtering animals on your property in the dark, near your house, it's pretty confronting. Especially if you've got young children or a family situation."

The majority of hunters were good, responsible people but there was a small element who hunted illegally, he said.

Senior Constable Beau Webster said many people didn't report missing stock, or if they did, it was weeks after the theft.

Police had prosecuted 25 people for unlawfully hunting in Marlborough in the past year.

Many cases were never solved, he said.

Police encouraged people living in rural communities to take more notice of any suspicious activity or behaviour in their area, and to report it immediately, Webster said.

"If it gets reported, we can do something about it."

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- The Marlborough Express

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