Editorial: Poachers must be reported

By Andrew Austin


The story on yesterday's front page about poachers and rustlers targeting Hawke's Bay farms and blocks has attracted a lot of attention.

The story is now on our website - here - and it has already become one of our most read items online.

Police are concerned that poachers and rustlers are becoming so brazen that soon it will not be sheep, cattle or deer coming under fire, but a person.

Hawke's Bay Police Senior Constable Peter Gimblett said it was police's main fear because "a lot of these people are carrying guns and knives".

Bay View Constable John Bruce is also dealing with an increasing number of illegal hunting, rustling and poaching incidents in northern Hawke's Bay.

The problem is also bad in Puketitiri, where a farmer, who does not want to be identified, says he has come across sheep in roadside paddocks which had been shot.

He said he had also come across gun-toting "hunters" on his private land hunting deer.

The farmer said some of these armed intruders had been quite aggressive and he had backed off as a result.

The police are right when they say it could be a person who is targeted next. All it takes is one foolhardy thief to pull a knife or a trigger and suddenly the situation goes from livestock theft to murder.

I realise that times are tough for people, but this does not give anyone the right to trespass on private farmland and then to destroy animals belonging to someone else.

Farmers have a tough enough job as it is and I am sure they often feel that circumstances are conspiring against them. This is just another added worry they don't need.

It is also the way in which the animals are killed that is a cause for concern. It can be fairly brutal and some of the animals don't die immediately.

Whenever police tell us about poaching stories, they more often than not send out photographs of the dead animals. They did so in the latest incident, but we decided not to publish them because they were rather distasteful. It certainly would get the message across if we had.

The alarming thing about this story is that, according to Eastern Region Police Crime Prevention Officer Paul Miller, only about 20 per cent of poaching and rustling incidents are reported.

Farmers and the public who know about poaching need to report the incidents to police so that these criminals can be brought to book.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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