Rescued ruru with Senior Constable Pat O'Leary. The ruru was rescued from the middle of the road during the operation, it flew away unharmed. Photo / NZ Police

Hawke’s Bay police have seen an increase in post-Covid/cyclone unlawful hunting activity, anecdotally, and there are concerns that someone may be seriously hurt if this continues.

Preventing unlawful hunting post-cyclone in Hawke’s Bay was the focus of a combined night patrol in the region.

A police spokesman told BayBuzz during the operation two officers were driving back to the Kaweka base when they noticed a bird in the middle of the road.

Realising that it was a ruru, it was picked up and taken off the road, with the intention to take it to a vet if needed. The bird appeared to have no injuries and it flew away unharmed.

A man was also caught and will face charges for hunting without a permit.

The spokesman said as part of a larger operation, police have plans to conduct more night patrols in the area.

“Exactly when and where these operations will occur will be random and will frequently link into different blocks and outstations,” he said.

“The wider plan intends to ensure national consistency and links with iwi forestry management blocks and private landowners.”

Police plan to increase night patrols and become more visible as they connect with rural partners to raise awareness of unlawful hunting.

Deer, pigs, livestock including cows, sheep, and horses have been targeted in unlawful hunting activity.

Hawke’s Bay police are working with the Te Tari Pureke team, Māori, Pacific and Ethnic Services, and key stakeholders to keep everyone safe. 

The spokesman said this included identifying opportunities to work with training providers, schools, and hunting clubs to help create safer pathways and options for people to enjoy recreational hunting.

“Supporting our rural community is a priority and pre-existing issues are now causing added stress.”

Concerns about poaching were also highlighted at a recent three-day cyclone recovery workshop attended by a range of agencies and community organisations, including Fish and Game, Department of Conservation, Ministry of Primary Industries, local councils and local community leaders.

Rural Community Relations Supervisor Sergeant Anaru Graham said the workshop was an opportunity to discuss what everybody has been through, what’s working well since the cyclone, and what is needed moving forward.

“The workshop highlighted that some existing issues that rural communities deal with have been compounded post-cyclone and that included unlawful hunting,” said Graham.

He said to help reassure rural communities, police organised the combined night patrol with the intention of preventing unlawful hunting in targeted remote areas.

By the end of the night the team had spoken with numerous local residents, stock agents, workers and Department of Conservation (DOC) permitted hunters, helping to spread the word that police were out actively looking for unlawful hunters.

“This was the first combined team patrol,” said Graham.

“There were lots of learnings and everyone is keen to do more, with the intention of linking in our sole-charge stations and more of our key stakeholders.”

If you see any suspicious behaviour, please report it to police by contacting 111 if it’s happening now and 105 if it’s after the fact. The more information police have, the higher the likelihood of offenders being identified and held to account.

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