Mataikona folk unite against poachers

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Sergeant Ian Osland said police were investigating illegal hunting. PHOTO/FILE
Sergeant Ian Osland said police were investigating illegal hunting. PHOTO/FILE

Mataikona people are making a stand against dangerous spotlight hunting and poaching.

About 20 residents met with police and rural fire staff to discuss the problem, and have joined forces to form a Neighbourhood Support network.

Mataikona resident Craig Harrison said people were coming into the area several times a week to spotlight hunt and were firing shots with no regard to safety.

"If it carries on the way it's going there's a real possibility that a bullet is going to go through a building and if someone's in it, who knows?

"There's a lot of houses there that are tucked away in the bush that you can't actually see, so that's a big issue -- the safety aspect of it -- and it happens several times a week."

Spotlights were being shone on to houses and shots fired in the direction of baches and homes, Mr Harrison said.

As well as cut fences, there had been an increase of "ratbags" and burglaries in the area.

Residents were fed up, he said.

"We are definitely getting on top of it. We are not going to tolerate it any more."

While they would not be forming a vigilante-type group, the new Neighbourhood Support groups would be vigilant about reporting everything to the police and communicating with each other.

"It's just really coming together as a community and dealing with the issue that best way that we can."

Another resident, Paul Kuchenbecker, runs a safari hunting business that offers hunters sport in what should be a safe environment.

The area needed increased police presence on Friday and Saturday nights, when the problem was at its worst, he said.

"We just need a patrol car to cruise through but it's very hard to get them to do it because it's an hour-and-a-half out of town."

Hunters were often shooting from the road through fences to get at deer and firing off whole volleys of shots, he said.

"We are concerned and we don't want to get into a situation where someone gets shot."

Police youth and community services manager Sergeant Ian Osland said police were investigating a report of illegal hunting in the area.

The remote location made it difficult for police, he said, but they would be more proactive in the area as well as working with residents to find solutions.

If people got car registration numbers, police could stop cars as they headed towards Masterton, he said.

Shooting across people's land was an offence, as well as dangerous, he said. Section 48 of the Arms Act states anyone who discharges a firearm near a house or public place can be imprisoned for up to three months or fined up to $3000.

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