Two Southland men were sentenced today in the Gore District Court for hunting offences committed in a public reserve in Southland in November last year.
Shannon James Ferris, aged 24, of Invercargill, was sentenced to 200 hours’ community work for unlawful hunting at Piano Flat in November last year and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Daniel Cyril Peterson, aged 25, of Gore, was sentenced to 80 hours’ community work and forfeiture of two firearms for unlawful hunting at Piano Flat in November last year.
The two men shone a spotlight on Department of Conservation (DOC) staff undertaking bat survey work in the bush surrounding the public reserve at Piano Flat. The DOC staff were wearing headlamps. No shots were fired but the hunters fired shots further down the road near the camping ground.
Neither men had a permit to hunt on conservation land, where it’s illegal to hunt after dark and to use spotlights to shoot wild deer in the area.
“This incident caused staff great distress,” DOC Southland Services Manager Ros Cole said.
“The actions of these two hunters highlight the very real dangers associated with spotlighting. DOC and the police are working hard to educate hunters about the issue – but also have a zero tolerance approach to offenders.”
“Hunters are warned that if they’re found to be breaking the rules and putting people at risk, DOC will take action,” Ros said.
“We want to acknowledge most hunters are responsible, safety conscious and abide by the rules. They need to speak out and report any illegal hunting activity immediately to the police or DOC, as they’re being tarnished by the actions of a few people breaking the law.”
The prosecution of the two men was a result of the NZ Police and DOC working together to address the issue of illegal hunting, Ros said.
The warning follows another recent incident of illegal spotlighting near Nelson which is currently under investigation. Schoolteacher Rosemary Ives died in 2010 when she was shot during an illegal spotlight hunting incident at a DOC campsite near Turangi. She was wearing a headlamp which the hunter mistook for the eyes of a deer.