Signs shot up by ‘morons’
The Nevis River has been protected from hydroelectric damming, but riverbank signs have fallen prey to gun-toting ‘‘morons’’ intent on wreaking havoc in the high-country scenic spot. Photos taken on Sunday reveal signs belonging to the Department of Conservation and Otago Fish and Game have been riddled with bullets –possibly solid shotgun slug rounds – and in one case had an alcohol bottle inserted into bullet holes. Last Friday Environment Minister Amy Adams, at a surprise press conference held in Arrowtown announced the river had been given the highest level of protection possible for a New Zealand waterway. The announcement ended a seven-year push played out in the Environment Court from Pioneer Generation, who wanted to dam the river to generate electricity. The rare native fish species gollum galaxiid, for which the river offers the only existing natural habitat, is the prime reason for the protection order, but it also benefits trout anglers and fisheries and recreational kayakers. However, the Department of Conservation’s Wakatipu district manager Greg Lind said it was very likely a coincidence that the vandalism occurred right as heightened protection levels were announced. ‘‘Unfortunately we lose signs every year to people who just seem to have the need to shoot them full of holes – these are generally acts of random stupidity,’’ he said. Depending on size, signs could cost up to $600 to replace, and until a replacement was organised the damaged signs, which should carry vital, legible information about the particular area, became completely useless eye-sores, Mr Lind said. Otago Fish and Game chief executive Niall Watson said he was aware of a shooting spree in the last year which destroyed a number of signs, but was only alerted to the latest incident by the Mirror. ‘‘We’ve been aware of other signs that have been shot up in the area, and decided not to replace them immediately, but with more signs suffering the same fate will unfortunately have to look at the damage and decide whether to replace them all. It is an isolated area, where unfortunately some people have decided that it is OK to commit completely stupid acts of vandalism.’’ Derek Whelan of Cromwell, who discovered the latest round of shot up signs said it was good news the river had been protected, but wondered who could protect the surrounding valley from ‘‘morons.’’
Added insult: ADepartment of Conservation sign, also shot full of holes, with the shooter adding a finishing touch by inserting awine bottle into one of the holes.