The death of 180,000 chickens at a broiler farm on Auckland's outskirts has been referred to the Crown Solicitor.
The animals died at D B Chicks near Helensville in late November 2019, in what an animal law expert called the biggest mass death event in New Zealand agricultural history.
The Ministry for Primary Industries investigated the incident.
And 16 months after the animals died, the Herald has learned the case has been referred to prosecutors.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
"We have referred the case to the Crown Solicitor, and are considering their recommendations," MPI's compliance services director Gary Orr said.
The Ministry said for that reason it was unable to answer further questions about the deaths and investigation.
The referral does not make prosecution inevitable.
Auckland-based legal expert and scholar Dr Bill Hodge said generally, crown solicitors assessed whether prosecution was in the public interest.
He said the solicitors would ask: "Can we win and should we use the resource to this end?"
Marcel Rodriguez Ferrere, an animal law expert, previously said the incident northwest of Auckland was "the biggest mass death" in New Zealand history.
It's understood the dead animals were subsequently dumped on a worm farm.