A member of the media placed himself in the line of fire as animal control officers took aim to shoot a steer that had broken free from a truck in Hamilton on Tuesday.
Police said the steers escaped from the vehicle near a roundabout linking Avalon Dr bypass with Norton Rd at about 3.30pm.
"One animal has broken a leg in its bid to escape and it and another steer wandered off north of where the truck was but a white steer has posed particular problems, walking into traffic and becoming highly agitated,'' Inspector Karen Henrikson said.
The animal was eventually shot by Hamilton City Council animal control staff, under police supervision.
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The Waikato Times reported one steer had to be shot three times and bled profusely for more than 15 minutes while still on its feet before being killed.
"Our staff reported the job was made all the more difficult by one man refusing to move away and a member of the media who placed himself in the line of fire.
"Our advice in such situations is to follow the directions of officers and move away from the area,'' Ms Henrikson said.
Having killed the first animal police supervised the shooting of the other two by an experienced butcher.
She said the euthanising was assessed as the most humane method of dealing with the situation and was carried out in consultation with the animals' owner.
"These situations are complex in that you need to be very careful with the placement of shots due to the risk posed to bystanders.''