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Bill to strengthen ranger powers passes second reading


Hon Maggie Barry

Minister of Conservation
3 November 2016 Media Statement

Wildlife Bill to strengthen ranger powers passes second reading

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has welcomed the second reading of a bill to modernise and strengthen DOC rangers’ ability to protect native wildlife from poaching and smuggling.

The Wildlife (Powers) Amendment Bill passed its second reading in Parliament this morning.

“The Wildlife Act protects our unique taonga species from being illegally taken, hunted, killed, or smuggled out of NZ. But the enforcement powers have not been updated for 60 years and are no longer fit for purpose to give the best protection to our vulnerable wildlife,” Ms Barry says.

“This bill is a specific and important revision of the old Act and extends new powers to DOC’s full-time rangers which will ensure they have the additional tools they need to protect our precious native wildlife and biodiversity from very real threats to their survival.”

Under the Wildlife Act, DOC is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of crimes against native wildlife, including illegal hunting of protected species.

The four new powers are:

• The ability to take action to prevent an offence about to occur or in progress.

• Temporarily stop persons suspected of an offence to allow investigation.

• Seize a broader range of evidence such as laptops, cameras and mobile phones.

• Require date of birth and proof of identification details from suspected offenders.

“For the first time, full-time Fish & Game rangers will also receive the ability to require suspected offenders to provide proof of their date of birth, helping them make an even more effective contribution to protect the species they are charged with safeguarding.”

In addition, the bill grants a power to arrest for serious offending against absolutely protected wildlife, such as that involving illegal hunting, killing, or export to DOC’s specially trained team of highly qualified and warranted enforcement officers, and to a select group of qualified officers from other Crown agencies working with DOC on joint-agency operations (including the Police, Customs, Fisheries, and the Defence Force).

“This bill builds on legislation passed into law in 2013 by my colleague Jacqui Dean, which increased and standardised penalties for offences against wildlife.

“It is part of a suite of legislative reforms, policies and programmes undertaken by this Government, including the Predator Free 2050 goal and the War on Weeds, to further protect our native biodiversity, recognising New Zealanders’ duty of care towards our nature.”

ends

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