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Fish & Game appeal over poachers after weekend flareup

Media release from Eastern Fish & Game

Fish & Game appeal over poachers after weekend flareup

Fish & Game officers in Rotorua have made a strong call for the public to support their anti-poaching measures and use the 0800 POACHING number – after a string of incidents over an unusually busy weekend, one extremely serious.

In the worst of eight separate incidents, a man found fishing illegally in the Upper Utuhina Stream threatened to stab a Fish & Game officer.

Eastern Region Fish & Game Officer Anthony van Dorp says the officer spotted the man fishing using an illegal fishing method, and in an area of closed waters during the trout spawning season. “When he approached the man became very aggressive and belligerent, and the threat was repeated twice – with the poacher’s body language also very threatening.”

After he’d refused requests to cooperate, the man ran off.

Mr van Dorp says the officer involved is to be praised for his handling of the incident. He withdrew from the encounter at an early stage following staff safety training procedures to the letter, and alerted police who are now investigating.

Any further comment on the incident should properly come from the police, he adds, but we do appeal to anyone who might have been in the upper Utuhina area on Saturday afternoon, who might have useful information, to contact either Fish & Game or the Rotorua Police. The offender was in his teens or early twenties.

“This is some of the worst and most gravely concerning behaviour we have encountered, and won’t be tolerated.

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“Any type of threat to harm an officer is treated with the utmost seriousness and prompts the strongest of responses – including an immediate call for police assistance. Those who choose to flout the fishing regulations then respond with threats are urged to think twice.

“We go down every possible avenue to bring such people before the courts.”

In a recent case before the Rotorua District Court, two people who were caught poaching last year have just been sentenced. A man was sentenced to 250 hours community work for his part in taking 25 trout from a spawning stream, while his female associate found with him received 150 hours.

In one of the other incidents, on Sunday, a man was caught with 13 rainbow trout taken from a Rotorua closed spawning stream. He is facing charges and officers are following up on two other people believed to have been involved.

None of the weekend incidents prompted any calls from the public to Eastern Fish & Game’s 0800 POACHING line which is quite unusual and concerning, says Mr van Dorp, so we do take this opportunity to remind the public of the number and its purpose – to protect the district’s vulnerable spawning streams in particular. The number for 0800 POACHING is 0800-762244.

© Scoop Media

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