Signs shot up by ‘mo­rons’

Ex­pen­sive van­dal­ism

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By GRANT BRYANT

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.

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