Grisly beach find not un­com­mon says bird group

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Heather McCracken

The dis­cov­ery of a mu­ti­lated se­abird on Pt Che­va­lier beach has shocked lo­cal bird lovers.

Res­i­dent Sum­mer Se­crest found the dead pied shag while walk­ing ear­lier this month.

She was ap­palled to see the bird had suf­fered a deep stab wound to the ab­domen.

“I no­ticed it had this huge, gap­ing wound, which to me def­i­nitely looked like a knife wound,” she says.

“I’m so an­gry and frus­trated at the peo­ple who did this.”

Ms Se­crest re­ported the find to Auck­land’s Bird Res­cue Cen­tre, and was dis­tressed to learn it’s not un­com­mon.

“It was hor­ri­ble to hear that, and I thought now I’m re­ally go­ing to do some­thing about it,” she says.

“Some­thing good has to come of it, even if it’s just shed­ding light on a prob­lem that no one seems to know about.”

She’s spo­ken to other reg­u­lar beach walk­ers at Pt Che­va­lier, who have also been shocked by the find.

The Bird Res­cue Cen­tre’s Pam Howlett says the in­juries to the bird Ms Se­crest found were “very sus­pect”.

“A lot of fish­er­men don’t treat them very kindly at all,” she says.

Some are in­jured af­ter be­ing roughly cut free from nets or lines, but oth­ers are de­lib­er­ately hurt.

“We have had birds with their beaks cut off, which have to be de­stroyed,” she says.

“For­tu­nately we don’t have too much of that, but we do see them.

“It’s some­thing that is ab­so­lutely ab­hor­rent.”

The pied shag, also known as a pied cor­morant, is a com­mon sight in Auck­land’s har­bours.

Ms Howlett says they’re a spe­cial part of the land­scape, and at­tract bird lovers from around the world.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic should re­port mis­treat­ment when they see it, she says.

“There are mas­sive fines and pun­ish­ments for peo­ple who do mistreat th­ese birds, but no one re­ports it.”

Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion bio­di­ver­sity man­ager Phil Brown says the birds have been tar­geted in the past, par­tic­u­larly by fish­er­men.

“But the sort of fish that we gen­er­ally take, like snap­per, aren’t go­ing to be the food prey for shags any­way,” he says.

Of­fend­ers face fines of up to $5000 un­der the Wildlife Act.

In­ci­dents can be re­ported to the SPCA, or to DOC on 0800 DOC HOT.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Shock­ing find: An­i­mal-lover Sum­mer Se­crest was hor­ri­fied to find a stabbed se­abird on the beach at Pt Che­va­lier.

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