A tip-off about the activities of two men spotted near Willowflat at Kotemaori has led to Hawke's Bay police shutting down an illegal hunting expedition.

The area has become something of a magnet for illegal hunters and the eventual arrests were a good result, a police spokesperson said.

"There have been a number of reports of alleged illegal hunting in this area."

Police received a tip-off about 9pm last Friday and the Armed Offenders Squad was deployed in an overnight operation.


As a result, two men were found and arrested.

Their vehicle, its contents and a deer they shot were all seized.

The men, aged 21 and 24, are from the South Waikato region.

They were charged and released to appear in the Napier District Court at a later date.

Illegal hunting traditionally increases at this time of the year as the "roar" begins.

Earlier this year a forestry manager said there were incidents every month and said apart from the hunters taking deer they were not entitled to, being illegally on the land, they often caused "considerable" damage.

Gates were left damaged and there had also been occasions where illegal hunters helped themselves to fuel from vehicles they came across.

One rural station farmer said the number of incidents had risen over the past year.


The farmer, who did not want to be named, said he had been farming in the area for more than 17 years and while there had always been an "occasional" illegal hunting or poaching incident they had increased over the past couple of years.

He said he had regularly found the carcasses of deer left after their hindquarters had been removed, and had occasionally come across deer shot "for the hell of it".

The justice system, the man said, needed to "come down harder" on the armed hunters.

"Hit them hard in the pocket," he said.

There had been changes to the Wild Animal Control Act which saw the maximum fine for the offence of unlawful hunting rise to $100,000 and up to a year's imprisonment.

The rising rate of illegal hunting, along with poaching, led to the creation of a rural "watch" programme sparked by Taradale Community Senior Constable Pete Gimblett, whose "patch" includes a wide rural area north and west of Napier.

The Napier Community Patrol group is part of this initiative.

Rural patrols have begun for the second year and will continue through the height of the roar season for the next three months.

Police said anyone seeing suspicious activity, should ring them on 831 0700 or leave information anonymously on the 0800 555 111 Crimestoppers line.