Hunters who are illegally spotlighting for deer on conservation land are putting members of the public at risk, the Conservation Department has warned.
DOC South Marlborough community relations ranger Shelly Sidley said several reports of hunters spotlighting up the Leatham and Branch valleys had been made to the department recently. It is illegal to spotlight on DOC estate.
Mrs Sidley said the spotlighters were in areas where other members of the public such as trampers could be without the hunter's knowledge.
She said that trampers had reported seeing spotlights from their huts or tents.
Rural constable Beau Webster of Blenheim police said Leatham and Branch valleys were well-known spotlighting areas, with good hunting from the 4WD road next to the river.
Illegal spotlighting on DOC estate was not a new problem, he said.
Mr Webster said this time of the year was good for deer hunting as mothers were leaving last year's fawns and the young animals were not gun shy yet. He reminded those with hunting permits that the permits clearly stated spotlighting on DOC land was not allowed.
Although he was aware of recent illegal spotlighting, Mr Webster said no complaints had been made to police.
The maximum penalty for unlawful hunting under the Conservation Act was one year imprisonment or a $10,000 fine. Mr Webster said hunters caught spotlighting illegally were likely to face several charges.
The charges could include breaching their permit conditions, hunting at night and a firearms breach.
"Police would be seriously looking at revoking their [firearms] licence," he said.
- The Marlborough Express