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Deer-farmers take action against poachers

By Chris Steel of the Bay of Plenty Times -
Farmers, Geoff and Karen Turner stand vigil after deer were killed on their property. Photo / Bay of Plenty Times
Farmers, Geoff and Karen Turner stand vigil after deer were killed on their property. Photo / Bay of Plenty Times

A deer-farming couple fed up with having their stock stolen waited out suspected poachers hiding in a bush on their property for four hours in the middle of the night.

Landowners on Work Rd, south of Katikati, have been taking down licence plate numbers of suspicious vehicles in a bid to catch armed poachers treating their land as a free-for-all hunting spot.

Geoff and Karen Turner, owners of Puriri Park deer farm at the top of Work Rd, suspect five fallow deer, a red stag and a red hind have been taken by poachers from their 182ha property in the past five months.

In a recent incident, on May 20, two men found near the Turner property were convicted of breaching the Wild Animal Control Act and fined $200 each.

Then, about 10pm on Sunday night, Mrs Turner got a text from a neighbour saying a four wheel-drive on their list of suspicious vehicles had driven past.

"I raced out to where I was told the offenders had been dropped off [in a patch of bush near the entrance to their property]," Mrs Turner said.

"I yelled out to them 'show yourself or I'll call the police'."

She knew they were hiding and waited for them to do something.

Her husband was nearby and joined her to wait for the poachers, then they waited and watched until the early hours of Monday.

When the vehicle returned at 2am and drove back down the road 30 seconds later without picking up the poachers, the couple followed the vehicle and were on the phone with the police until it pulled over.

Three police vehicles arrived soon after and the driver was spoken to. Two officers went with the man back up Work Rd where two other men were located, along with a firearm and spotlight.

The Turners said people believed the area was Department of Conservation land even though signs said otherwise.

'There are plenty of places for hunters to get into the bush ... . They need to get a permit and go hunting legitimately," Mr Turner said.

"Instead of taking the easy road, get out into the thousands of acres of bush, develop some hunting skills and actually work for your trophy."

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