The farmer who left hundreds of hens to die when he walked off a Martinborough property has escaped prosecution by the SPCA.
South Wairarapa District Council inspected the 7.7ha egg farm in January and discovered about 50 dead hens, after complaints from neighbours.
The dead birds were scattered around two large hen houses, which were full of dried pumpkin shells and hen manure in places up to 20cm deep.
The poultry farm was owned by Stephen and Aroha Gunson, of Wellington, and neighbours previously told the Times-Age the couple had not been seen since August last year.
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SPCA national inspectorate and centre support manager Alan Wilson said there was a lack of evidence in the case which led to the decision not to prosecute.
He said the national office reviewed the file given to them by Wairarapa SPCA, and spoke to those they felt necessary to speak to - including the owner who was very "co-operative".
He said the file was presented very late in the investigation and there wasn't "anywhere near" enough evidence to prosecute.
Council group manager planning and environment Glenn Bunny said he first heard about the decision not to prosecute the owner after being approached by media.
Mr Bunny said he and three staff had visited the site and he had expected to have been spoken to.
"It's the SPCA's decision and their mandate to prosecute or not."
Wairarapa SPCA manager Val Ball did not want to comment.