An Auckland man has been charged by The Department of Conservation for the shooting of a protected native pied stilt.

The department first became aware of the matter after being informed by Fish and Game staff of the shooting.

Hawke's Bay Fish and Game regional ranger Mark Venman said the rangers were on a routine patrol on May 6 which was opening day of duck shooting when they came across a group of seven game bird hunters at Takapau.

Lying on top of a pile of ducks was a native pied stilt and when the group was asked who had shot it one replied it had just "fallen from the sky".

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When the ranger asked again a man stepped forward identified himself and owned up to the shooting, saying he thought it was something else.

Department of Conservation (DoC) Hawke's Bay operations manager Connie Norgate said that DoC administered the Wildlife Act 1953. Under this act all native wildlife, such as birds, bats and reptiles, unless declared otherwise, are absolutely protected throughout New Zealand. It is an offence to hunt, kill, or possess any protected wildlife without a permit from DoC.

The pied stilt, himantopus himantopus, or poaka, is a relatively common native wading bird and is absolutely protected throughout New Zealand. The pied stilt has distinctive long pink legs and a long fine black bill.

She said this was clearly a case of not identifying the target and was unacceptable, as it could have well been an endangered whio (blue duck) or similar.

The man has received diversion which totals $650.