A Hastings family is "bloody livid" that traps are being used to cull pukeko which they say is having an impact on the number of birds around the Karamu River in Pukahu.

Peter Berry said he was disgusted by what was being done and if he could would kick some of the traps down himself.

"It's absolutely disgusting and if I could I would go down there and kick every single one of them down because it's starting to have a noticeable impact.

"My wife and daughter are both sick of it also and are noticing the numbers of pukeko drop as well because just last week they went for a walk down there and saw dozens around and again went to have a look on the weekend and saw only three."

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The four large wire cages were baited with grain and had been fitted with funnel entrances like crayfish pots to keep the birds in.

Berry said they contacted Fish & Game as a majority of the traps were on private land and were told it was legal and a permit was granted for the traps to be used by the landowner to protect crops.

However, he said Fish & Game stated that the permit was for a short period of time and only for a small number of birds, further to that the traps were not allowed on public land.

Fish and Game say they issue these permits on occasion as pukeko, swans and paradise shelducks can cause a lot of damage to crops and new plantings. Photo / Supplied
Fish and Game say they issue these permits on occasion as pukeko, swans and paradise shelducks can cause a lot of damage to crops and new plantings. Photo / Supplied

Berry said that part of the land near the river did come under private land but that one was distinctively on regional council land and nearest to the pukekos' natural habitat.

Fish & Game said the trapping was legal so far as it had issued a limited permit for the landowner to trap pukeko on their properties for crop protection.

Hawke's Bay Fish & Game regional manager Jesse Friedlander confirmed that it did issue a permit.

But he did say that the traps should have been on the private land for which the permit had been issued.

"My understanding is that due to the use of machinery in the paddock, the traps had been moved over the fence and were on council property.

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"Our field officer investigated the inquiry immediately after receiving it, contacted the land manager/permit holder and the traps have been removed."

He says permits are issued occasionally as pukeko, swans and paradise shelducks can cause a lot of damage to crops and new plantings.

The permit that was issued was for a month duration and is restricted to a small number of pukeko per day/week to be culled.

Berry says he understands the birds can be a pest but that there are much simpler ways to solve the problem than to go and cull "hundreds" of birds.

"I get that pukeko can be a problem, they cause havoc in my garden sometimes, but I know the local landowners sometimes shoot a couple in their crops and hang them on the fence and scare some of the birds away which seem to do the trick."

Friedlander says they first find other tactics and only use culling as a last resort.

"Any culling method used must be humane and is specified on the permit and where possible, we encourage the use of disturbance methods [eg. bird scarers] rather than culling."

He confirmed that in the past 12 months, 23 permits of this kind have been applied for in the Hawke's Bay Fish & Game region.