Illegal duck cull followed big vet bills

June 22, 2017 | By More

Three Leeston men must pay $2250 to North Canterbury Fish and Game for an unauthorised cull of Paradise Shelduck that were causing big bills for a farm at Irwell.

The Christchurch District Court was told the farm had already paid $6000 in veterinary bills because livestock had become ill from pasture contaminated by the duck faeces.

But the men escaped convictions, and two of them will get back the shotguns that rangers seized after the shoot on January 30. The third man did not have his gun seized.

Judge Peter Rollo took the view that the illegal hunting on Lochaber Farm was “an error of judgment”.

The men exceeded the daily limit for Paradise Shelducks and they did not know that they could have sought authorisation for a cull to reduce the duck numbers.

Judge Rollo told the trio: “I consider that while your actions were based on ignorance and perhaps overzealous, your intentions were good and consistent with usual farming practice to try to limit fowl which are detrimental to the farm and its livestock.”

Before the court were Timothy Peter Donald, 28, the farm manager, Phillip Julian Moore, 31, a butcher, and Nigel Donald McMillan, 33, who all admitted exceeding the daily bag limit of 20 ducks per hunter.

Prosecutor Heather McKenzie said a fourth person had also been charged but he was overseas at present and his case was remanded without plea.

The group had shot 128 Paradise Shelduck, when the bag limit would have been 80 for four hunters. A permit to cull the ducks could be sought in advance, for $95, which would usually be allowed in an emergency situation, and there would be a report to Fish and Game afterwards about the number of birds shot.

Defence counsel for Donald, Ruth Buddicom, said there had been an explosion in the population of the birds which were causing damage to grazing land. Veterinary bills of more than $6000 had been paid because the faeces from the birds on the pasture was spreading disease among the livestock.

Counsel for McMillan, Linda Drummond, said his firearm had not been seized because it had belonged to his father, who had died recently.

Counsel Shannon-Leigh Litt said Moore was from Britain and he was worried that the conviction would affect his ability to travel overseas and to hold a firearms licence. He apologised for the offence.

Fish and Game sought fines and forfeiture of the two shotguns from Donald and Moore, but Judge Rollo said convictions would be out of proportion to the level of criminality.

He ordered the men to pay court costs of $130 each, plus $750 each to Fish and Game for the cost of prosecution, and he declined to make an order for forfeiture of the shotguns.

He said he was sure the three men were “much wiser” after going through the court process.

 

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