The Department of Conservation is appealing for information after a protected bird was shot with an air rifle on a Gisborne beach.
It says the death of the adult variable oystercatcher, or tōrea pango, occurred sometime between 1-3 November, on or near Pouawa Beach 18 kilometres northeast of Gisborne city.
It was found and reported to DOC by a camper, who found it while walking on the beach. It was then picked up by DOC staff and sent to Massey University for a postmortem.
There was no visible wounds on the bird, but an x-ray showed two air rifle pellets were the cause of death.
A second bird was picked up the following day, and although a post-mortem wasn’t undertaken, DOC staff believed it was shot and killed at the same time as the first.
It is an offence under the Wildlife Act to hunt or kill protected wildlife, carrying a penalty of up to two years in prison and fines up to $100,000.
DOC ranger Zachary Penman said the actions were inexcusable.
“It’s hard to understand why someone would do this,” he said. “Variable oystercatchers are a taonga species of Aotearoa, and usually live up to 30 years. They will often inhabit the same area of beach for their whole lives.”
“Local campers in Pouawa would see these birds every year and welcome their company. To them, and many in the community, it’s like losing a friend.”
Anyone with information about this shooting should call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) or contact the Gisborne DOC office and ask for the warranted officer on duty.