A man who shot at protected kea parrots, killing one, has been convicted and punished for the crime.
Nelson man Robert Derek Aberson was sentenced to 200 hours' community service in the Nelson District Court today on a charge of unlawfully hunting or killing absolutely protected wildlife in breach of the Wildlife Act 1953.
Aberson pleaded guilty to the charge.
Judge David Ruth said the offence was a serious matter and that a $15,000 fine was starting point for penalty.
However Ruth took into account the limited financial means of Aberson to pay the fine, and imposed community service.
The punishment was welcomed by the Department of Conservation.
DoC acting Motueka operations manager Kath Inwood said harming kea and other protected native wildlife was unacceptable and the department viewed such offences very seriously.
"Kea are unique as the world's only alpine parrot and they have a conservation status of nationally endangered," Inwood said.
"Their numbers today are estimated to be less than 5000 - a fraction of what their numbers once were.
"These intelligent and inquisitive birds need our help to protect their species."
DoC prosecuted Aberson after he admitted shooting at kea on his property in August last year. Aberson told DOC staff he had killed one of the kea with a .22 air rifle.
Aberson told staff he shot at the kea because up to eight of the birds were causing damage at his property.
"If people are concerned about kea behaviour around their properties they should contact the Department of Conservation or the Kea Conservation Trust," Inwood said.
The Kea Conservation Trust runs a programme to provide property owners with practical help on kea-proofing property and how to avoid kea hanging around.
"In almost all cases favourable outcomes have been achieved for property owners and kea."
Information about practical kea-proofing solutions can be found on the Kea Conservation Trust website at www.keaconservation.co.nz.
The offence of hunting or killing absolutely protected wildlife has penalties of up to two years' imprisonment or a fine of up to $100,000, or both.