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$1250 fine for taking dog into national park

Date:  18 January 2012

A man has been fined $1250 for taking a dog to Flora Hut in Kahurangi National Park, putting kiwi and blue duck at risk.

Hayden Micheal Gibbes, 26, pleaded guilty to a charge of allowing a dog to be in a national park in breach of the National Parks Act and was sentenced this week (16 January) in Taihape District Court. Gibbes, who at the time lived in Motueka, spent the night of 12 January last year at Flora Hut with his dog.

Department of Conservation Motueka Area Manger Martin Rodd said dogs were known to kill ground-dwelling birds such as kiwi and weka and also blue duck/whio and were not allowed in national parks without a permit.

‘It was especially irresponsible to take a dog into the Flora area where the community conservation group Friends of Flora has been tirelessly working for more than a decade now to enhance the native vegetation and wildlife.

‘Whio numbers have been steadily increasing in their conservation project area due to their efforts in partnership with DOC and two years ago they returned kiwi to the area which has entailed an enormous trapping and fund-raising effort. Taking a dog into Friends of Flora’s project area posed a threat to the whio and kiwi they have worked so hard to foster and protect.

‘A Friends of Flora member saw the offender, the dog and the party he was with at Flora car park and told them dogs were not allowed in the national park without a permit and that there were kiwi in the area. The member also pointed out a sign stating dogs are not allowed but he still took the dog in. Some international visitors staying in Flora Hut that night were also concerned about the dog and told the group it shouldn’t be there.

‘It showed shameful disregard for the safety of native wildlife and for the outstanding conservation work of Friends of Flora to ignore those warnings and take the dog into the park overnight.’

Friends of Flora chairman Peter Adams and secretary Maryann Ewers said Friends of Flora were pleased the matter was taken seriously. 

'We hope it will deter other dog owners from contemplating taking their dogs into protected areas, such as national parks, without a permit. Our hope is the general public will put pressure on anyone seen in the Flora area with a dog, and hopefully dog owners will take heed.'