Date: 24 September 2012
A Central Otago helicopter company and hunter were sentenced in the Queenstown District Court today on charges relating to illegal hunting in Hāwea Conservation Park .
P G Limited (based in Luggate) was fined $4,600 for illegal landing of a helicopter and hunting in breach of its wild animal recovery concession on 5 December 2010. The company was ordered to pay costs of $1,500 towards the prosecution.
Company employee and Wanaka resident, Carlin Angus Gordon, was fined $2,100 for illegal hunting of deer in the same incident and also ordered to pay costs of $1,500. Both pleaded guilty to the charges in August this year.
The offenders were also sentenced on related charges laid by the Ministry for Primary Industries and Civil Aviation Authority.
The Department of Conservation will not tolerate operators illegally carrying out deer recovery in breach of their permits, says DOC Wanaka Area Manager, Paul Hellebrekers.
“In this case the pilot and hunter deliberately landed in a ‘red zone’ area prohibited to hunting in the Dingleburn valley despite having a GPS unit operating in the aircraft that clearly showed the prohibited area. It was a flagrant breach of the company’s wild animal recovery concession.”
“This action has strained the Department’s relationship with local landowners and also caused a decline in the level of wild animal control in the area for at least a season as other operators were nervous about operating in that area.”
The Department incurred significant costs to investigate the offending and take the case to court. However, taking this prosecution has been vindicated, says Mr Hellebrekers.
The wild animal recovery industry plays a valuable role in conservation and deer control. The benefit to native alpine grasslands and forests is well documented as well as the cost savings to the Department.