Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Mistreatment of deer draws fines for farmer

17 March 2005

Mistreatment of deer draws fines for farmer, stockhands, and company

Illegally and incorrectly develvetting deer without anaesthetic saw three men and a company fined when they were sentenced on animal welfare charges in the Rangiora District Court today.

John Craig Rutherford, 51, a farmer, of Culverden, and his company, Morna Downs Limited, faced a charge of procuring any person to do an act, namely develvetting of deer, as a result of which an animal suffers unreasonable or unnecessary pain or suffering, and another charge of performing a significant procedure on a stag not being a veterinarian or under the supervision of a veterinarian. Rutherford was fined $5000, while his company was fined $7500.

His employees, Hamish Arthur Zuppicich, 26, a stock manager, and Jason Edward Neal, 26, a shepherd, each faced a charge of performing a significant procedure on a stag not being a veterinarian or under the supervision of a veterinarian, and a charge of ill-treatment of deer. They were each fined $750.

The trio and the company pleaded guilty to the charges, laid under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, in March.

Develvetting is a controlled surgical procedure that can only be carried out by a veterinarian or an Accredited Velvetter who has completed a course run by the National Velvet Standards Board (NVSB). Rutherford had applied to become an Accredited Velvetter, but had not done any work to complete the programme, which enables continued exports of venison to Europe, where develvetting is illegal on animal welfare grounds. As recently as 2003 exports into that market were challenged by European deer farmers.

The offending first came to light on 10 December 2003 when eight of 20 stags sent to the PPCS deer slaughter plant at Islington were found by a MAF veterinarian to have been develvetted, with the antler cut too low. Five were cut below the pedicle, the soft growing area, which is fully supplied with blood vessels and nerves until the antler hardens off. The veterinarian believed, judging by the roughness of the cut, that it had not been done by a licensed operator and that no anaesthetic had been used.

Veterinary advice is that unless anaesthetic is used, removing velvet is similar to amputating a finger. Accepted practice is for deer to be develvetted about 1cm above the pedicle to ensure future antler growth is normal.

The eight stags were traced to Morna Downs Limited, the defendant company, operated by Rutherford, who was informed that develvetting was a controlled surgical procedure that could only be carried out be a veterinarian or an Accredited Develvetter. Rutherford had applied to become an Accredited Develvetter, but had not done any work to complete the programme.

The offending occurred after Rutherford was sent information by both Deer Industry New Zealand, the agency responsible for administration of the NVSB velvetting programme (in November 2002) and a Velvet Bulletin prepared by the NVSB (in March 2003). The bulletin reminded deer farmers that “Velvet can only be removed by a veterinarian or by a trained and certified farmer”.

When a search warrant was executed at Morna Downs on 19 March 2004, a pair of loppers used for develvetting deer and rubber rings of a type that had been used for develvetting were found. The rubber rings were the sort used to castrate and dock lambs and calves, and not Natur O rings – the only analgesic rings approved for develvetting deer.

In subsequent interviews, Neal and Zuppicich stated they had develvetted the stags in December 2003, under instructions from Rutherford to remove the antlers about 50mm above the top of the head. Neal stated he and Zuppicich took turns to remove the antlers, using a pair of loppers.

Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry Compliance & Enforcement Group


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Oprah as a Presidential Hopeful

Oprah for President…That was one of those summer silly season stories, right ? Maybe not.

On the morning after the Golden Globes Awards ceremony where she delivered That Speech (“I want all the girls watching here now to know that a new day is on the horizon!”) a lot of people seem to have woken up in the cold light of day with a vision of President Winfrey still dancing in their heads.

Oprah’s presidential run may have legs…More


Gordon Campbell: On Jim Anderton
For anyone born after 1975, it is hard to grasp just how important a figure Jim Anderton was, for an entire generation.
During the mid to late 1980s, Anderton was the only significant public figure of resistance to the Labour government’s headlong embrace of Thatcherism...More>>


Gong Time: New Year's Honours List

Jacinda Ardern today congratulated the 179 New Zealanders named on the 2018 New Year’s Honours List.

“Although this list was compiled and completed by the last government, it is a pleasure to welcome in the New Year by recognising exceptional New Zealanders,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“As an Aunty, I love reading books to my nieces, so it’s lovely to congratulate Joy Cowley, who is made a member of the Order of New Zealand today....More
Full list

Roads: National launches bid to save highway projects

The National Party has launched a series of petitions aimed at saving regional highway projects at risk because of the Government’s obsession with Auckland trams…More>>


Medical Cannabis: Bill Introduced to “ease suffering”

Health Minister Dr David Clark says making medicinal cannabis more readily available will help relieve the suffering of people who are dying in pain More>>


Campbell: On The Quest For Zero Net Carbon Emissions
Some would querulously ask, zero net carbon emissions by 2050 – while others would say, why not?


CPAG Report: The Further Fraying Of The Welfare Safety Net

New Zealand’s welfare system has undergone a major transformation during the past three decades. This process has seriously thwarted the original intent of the system, which was to provide a decent standard of living for all New Zealanders in times of need... More>>





Featured InfoPages