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Early Season Kukupa "Bust" in Omahuta Forest

Early Season Kukupa Bust in Omahuta Forest Sanctuary

An early season kukupa "bust" in the Omahuta Forest Sanctuary has angered conservation staff who remain seriously concerned about the bird's future.

A joint Department of Conservation and police surveillance operation in the area, resulted in staff yesterday (Tuesday 11 April) apprehending four local people in the protected area, seizing birds, weapons, horses and other gear associated with poaching.

Doc is now considering charges under the Wildlife Act 1953 against the four people apprehended in the sanctuary.

The birds were given Absolutely Protected status in 1921 although illegal hunting has continued to take place. Birds are shot mainly for food but are also know to be sold or raffled for monetary gain.

Kukupa are hunted most often between late March through until August. Under the Wildlife Act 1953 it is an offence to hunt or kill kukupa. The maximum fine is $1,500 plus $100 for each bird taken.

Northland Conservancy compliance and law enforcement officer Ross Atkinson said he was angry that people were still not getting the message about the New Zealand native woodpigeon's critical role in forest ecology.

"These birds just don't stand a chance against the poachers' and people who are planning to head into the bush to poach should realise that we are serious about clamping down on their activities," said Mr Atkinson.

The bust is the first of the season and Mr Atkinson said he hoped the message would get through to people that anyone planning to engage in these acitivities should be aware of the surveillance operation that is underway in forests around Northland.

The kukupa is in deep trouble and could all but disappear from Northland forests in the next 10-15 years. The bird plays a vital role in the health and survival of our forests, being the last surviving bird able to spread the large seeds of some tree species.

As part of its surveillance programme DoC also runs a 0800 kukupa hotline where people are able to confidentially ring through any information. The number is 0800 kukupa (585 872).

For more information please contact Ross Atkinson on either (09) 4078474 or 0800 585 872

ends

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