The police are failing to uphold the integrity of firearm laws by letting poachers “off the hook” says a Wairarapa landowner Bud Jones .
In January last year, four shooters armed with rifles entered his property which was surrounded by a 2.5m deer-proof fence. and fired 30 shots with a high powered rifle.
“The offenders openly admitted guilt but used the excuse they had permission to shoot on the neighbouring dairy farm and by mistake argued they thought Bud Jones’ property was part of the farm.
But Bud Jones was far from satisfied – he wanted court action with six key eye witnesses to the poaching.
“The police preferred to label the slaughter as a misunderstanding hoping it would shut me up. But it did not,” explained Bud Jones. “All the elements were in place to send a strong public message via media to would-be poachers everywhere. Instead all the poachers did receive was a notice as a police record against their name of the event for life. A slap with the proverbial wet bus ticket.”
Top police management in Wellington became involved but failed to act decisively and revoke firearm licences of the poachers. It was positively pathetic, he said.
Bud Jones is understandably angry at the laxness of the police and their failure to implement court action.
Anger at Police
“In light of the Christchurch mosque shootings, (March 15) firm action should have been automatic. The cops couldn’t even find there way to revoking the offenders’ firearms licences. What a hopeless weak system of policing we have,” he said.
Bud Jones, was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal in 2014 for services to music and conservation, the latter because he created significant wetlands to the west of Eketahuna,.
“To say I have very mixed feelings about the actions of the police, is putting it mildly,” he said. “At the start, the police response to apprehend the poachers was good but then subsequently over lack of prosecution, I’m disappointed in the indifference, lack of firm action, the theft and the cruelty inflicted on the deer,” he said.
When police apprehended the poachers, firearms licences were noted and identification details taken from all the shooters, but police did not confiscate any firearms or take any statements from witnesses. The carnage was sickening.
“Eight female deer were killed by rifle fire. All were milking with fawns at foot and all fawns died subsequently, lacking mothers’ milk,” said Bud Jones.
One shooter did not have a firearms licence and was a “beater” to push animals back to shooter positions.
Another described by Bud Jones as the “ring leader of the group” was a guide for his two sons and admitted having poached there several times previously for deer and Canada geese. He said, he did not enter the property on January 8, but did shoot a deer running the fence line.
“Surely police need to be firm, apply the fullest extent of the law and make an example of these offenders, and especially with the March 15 Christchurch tragedy, show that police are not soft on firearms crime,” he said.
Police have strong powers under the Wild Animal Control Act and the offenders, if proved guilty in court, could have rifles and vehicles used confiscated, firearm licences cancelled, and convictions of two years jail and $100,000 fines imposed.
In Idaho, USA, in 2014, poachers in Idaho who killed at least eight deer, one elk, and one moose, received two to five years sentence, “a special assessment of $104,250 and a lifetime revocation of hunting privileges.”
”That’s what we need in NZ,” said Bud Jones.