Takahē hunters could lose gun licences

  • 14/12/2015
Takahē hunters could lose gun licences

Two hunters who accidentally killed four endangered takahē during a botched pukeko cull on an Auckland island may be stripped of their gun licences.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has completed its investigation into August's pukeko cull on Motutapu Island which found two members of the New Zealand Deerstalkers' Association shot the rare birds.

The takahē were killed during the organised cull to cut down the number of pukeko on the island.

A detailed forensic investigation, including analysis of pellets found in the birds, confirmed the shots came from the guns of two men in the culling party, DOC's deputy director general of operations Mike Slater said.

He said the pair were both experienced game bird hunters and they'd been specifically briefed on the differences between pukeko and takahē and clearly instructed to only shoot birds on the wing.

"By failing to identify their target, they have breached a fundamental principle of the firearms code," Mr Slater said.

"As a result, we are referring the issue to the police to assess whether these men should continue to hold firearms licences."

In response, the association's national president Bill O'Leary said he was relieved the investigation was complete and regretted the "clearly unintentional mistakes" made by its members.

"Positively identifying your target is a fundamental rule for hunters and all safety messaging hammers that," Mr O'Leary said.

"The association is distressed that in this instance the rule was broken."

He said he didn't believe the relationship between the two organisations had been damaged.

In the wake of the incident, DOC has developed new national guidelines to standardise planning for future culling operations.